It takes a certain attitude, a certain predisposition, a special personality to operate a business.
Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. But for those who are, there is now a place where they can go to grow and network and think even further outside the box.
It’s been dubbed ‘The Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence’. And while it’s an initiative by the city of Lebanon and the office of Mayor Sherry Capello, it’s a project that has taken on increased meaning by the collaboration of a number of like-minded, civic-oriented, local business organizations.
The program was officially announced during Capello’s State of the City address in March following almost two years of research, focus groups, and planning.
The Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence will formally be launched in the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce building, 604 Cumberland Street in Lebanon, on Tuesday, April 23rd. The gathering will include a press conference, a presentation of ‘The Center’s’ features, and a host of distinguished community leaders.
“The Center will help individuals who are getting started in business answer the first question: Where do I start?’” said Capello.
“They’re definitely a special breed,” said Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Karen Groh of entrepreneurs. “An entrepreneur is someone who has an idea and develops it and executes it into a business. It could be somebody delivering newspapers. A kid selling lemonade on the corner is an entrepreneur. There’s such a huge definition of what it is.”
“I think the key is being self-motivated, for the greater good,” continued Groh. “You’re always pushing to get things done. You have to put the time and work into it, and you’ve got to be willing to make sacrifices. We want to make sure that entrepreneurialism is the right choice for individuals. It’s hard work and sometimes you’re not sure if the money is going to come in.”
The task force heading the Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence combines the talents and experiences of Capello, Groh, Dan Beck of Community First Fund, Robert Hadfield of the Lancaster-Lebanon chapter of SCORE, Barbara Kauffman of Kauffman Creative Services and Amy Kopecky of the Downtown Lebanon Business Improvement District.
“The Center is a one-stop-shop with four major areas of emphasis an entrepreneur requires: resources, education, support and collaboration,” said Capello. “It will also provide the same support for existing entrepreneurs in our community.”
The Center is seen as a a think tank of sorts, a place to exchange ideas, in addition to being a place to work. The Center will feature a work station, a conversation area and a research department, complete with internet access, website, calendar of events and most importantly, its own identity. All provided to users free of charge.
“We want people to think of it as a hub, and there are many outlying branches,” said Groh. “As it has evolved, it’s become an outlet for research and support for entrepreneurs in Lebanon County. Even though it’s a city initiative, we definitely want to support the county as a whole. We have a place for people to come to, physically and online.
“It doesn’t have to be a lot of stuff,” added Groh. “It’s what’s behind it that matters. You’ve got a place for forward-thinking people and people who can make it happen. Ultimately, we want to let Lebanon County know that entrepreneurs have a place to fall back on.”
The Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence will foster a cooperative spirit as much as a competitive one. That win-win approach, coupled with a can-do spirit, can only make the Lebanon business community stronger.
When individuals win, everybody wins.
“It’s the City of Lebanon’s vision,” said Groh. “We’re providing the location. SCORE provides great business mentorship. The fact is our county provides amazing resources already. If we can drive entrepreneurs to other entities, why duplicate it?”
“Collaboratively, we are so much stronger,” Groh added. “Collaboration is 100% the best way to go. We’re all on the same page. And once we get it going, I think it’s important to introduce it in the school system.”
There are roughly 2,800 businesses in Lebanon County which employ workers. There are about 8,000 local businesses which earn over $1,000 a year.
“Anybody could be an entrepreneur,” said Groh. “But my gut tells me there’s always a mix of people who want that steady pay check, and entrepreneurs. But technology allows us to do so much. You could create your own business doing anything, and stay in Lebanon County, just because of technology.”
“Entrepreneurs are dreamers,” Groh continued. “But you have to be ready for changes. I became an entrepreneur when I didn’t agree with the morals and practices of a business, and I thought I could do it better.”
Full Disclosure: The Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce is a sponsor of LebTown. LebTown does not make editorial decisions based on sponsorship status and sponsors do not receive special editorial treatment. Learn more about LebTown’s sponsorship program here.
Update 9:05am: An earlier version of this post misstated the availability of phones for public use at the Center.