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College Prep Lady Prepares High School Students for Post- Secondary Education in Central, PA

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Like all local heroes, and nascent entrepreneurs, Myra Blackwell successfully identified a business opportunity after listening to the needs and challenges in her community.  As a result, Myra Blackwell, also known as the “College Prep Lady”, began the courageous journey to create a new venture that aims to simplify the process…

Bucknell University SBDC Holds 2017 Celebration of Small Business

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On Friday, July 21, 2017 the Bucknell University SBDC held is annual Celebration of Small Business on Bucknell's campus in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. During the breakfast, four awards were given to the following exemplary small business owners: InnovateHER Business Challenge Bucknell SBDC Regional Winner: Kaitlin Schuck, Threading Love, Recognizing her efforts and…

Want to Commercialize your Technology? Learn How at the 2017 SBIR Workshop in Villanova

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Are you a small business owner or an entrepreneur in the technology sector looking for opportunities to fund development of an innovative technology? If you want to commercialize your technology, The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program can help.   As a highly competitive awards-based program, SBIR provides funding for innovators…

East Liberty Workwear

In 2014, friends and fellow entrepreneurs Joshua Lederer and Michael Wentzel visited the University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to discuss an idea for a new business venture. Lederer is an experienced industrial designer who founded and continues to run his own design consulting firm with the help of the Pitt SBDC; Wentzel owns a company providing custom embroidery for apparel and other soft goods for commercial customers. The two decided to join forces to tackle a substantial opportunity in Western Pennsylvania and beyond: professional and technical apparel for the growing industrial workforce in the region. They sought the services of the SBDC for general assistance and advice to guide them in their new endeavor.

Lederer and Wentzel were bright, dynamic thinkers with lots of ideas and lots of ambition. But as a small startup, resources were limited, so focus and direction had to be chosen carefully. To successfully launch East Liberty Workwear, they needed to create a strategy for measured growth that best utilized the company’s capabilities at each stage of its development.

Assistance Provided by the Pitt SBDC
The Pitt SBDC provided a number of services to help East Liberty Workwear move from concept phase to launch. The SBDC consultants began by conducting market and industry research, compiling data to help the business narrow its focus. They then used this data to identify key market segments worth targeting. They tapped into the SBDC’s network of trusted professionals to connect East Liberty Workwear with industry leaders, allowing the company to gain a better understanding of the needs of the market and industry firsthand. The SBDC also helped the company take advantage of a HUB Zone location, giving them preferential access to federal procurement opportunities in the future.

Impact and Results
In 2015, East Liberty Workwear was launched, creating three new jobs. Following the advice of the SBDC, they started lean: building relationships with prospective buyers and testing the waters of the market. The company currently offers a carefully curated assortment of high-quality workwear that meets the stringent requirements of industries such as oil and gas, electric utilities, and manufacturing, focusing on fire-resistant and arc-flash-resistant workwear. They also provide safety training workshops and educational programming for workers and safety managers, adding value for their stakeholders. The company continues to work with the Pitt SBDC to refine its strategy and uncover new revenue streams, including opportunities to market to government agencies. More broadly, they are pursuing their ultimate vision of becoming a leading innovator in the wearable safety product space by preparing to partner with industry and academia to develop their own line of safety product solutions. With the help of the Pitt SBDC, East Liberty Workwear is outfitted for an industrious future with plenty of room to grow!