Photo courtesy of Penn State News

Per its mission, the Penn State Small Business Development Center helps businesses start, grow, and prosper with no-cost, confidential consulting services and seminars in Centre and Mifflin counties. Their services have transformed community and student entrepreneurs’ dreams into realities, transmitting the knowledge and skills required to commercialize research or bring a technology to market.

Among SBDC’s success stories is Otto’s Pub & Brewery. Co-owner Roger Garthwaite sought their expertise in business planning as they set their sights on a separate brewing facility in 2008. Vamos! Lion Chariot’s founder Todd Miner leaned on the SBDC’s financial and legal consulting services while getting his pedicab service up and running. More recently, Matt Woods of X Material Processing came to the SBDC for help creating a business model and pitch to solicit funds for his multi-metal 3D printing technology company.

Beyond personalized services tailored to meet the needs of individuals’ entrepreneurial pursuits, the Penn State SBDC’s seminars are designed to touch a broader audience. It recently extended its services to summer camp attendees, imparting business savvy to entrepreneurs in the making.

From June 20-24, Science and Math Applications in Real-world Technology (SMART) Girls Camp provided high school girls with STEM experience and equipped them with entrepreneurial tools, with the objective of creating opportunities for girls in fields that they have not historically been encouraged to pursue. The students had access to 3D printers and digital technology in labs at the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, where the camp was held.

The camp kicked off with Jennifer Riden, Penn State SBDC business consultant, presenting ‘The First Steps to Starting a Business’ seminar to 40 girls in grades 9 through 12 who attended the weeklong sleep-away camp.

“The First Step of Starting a Business seminar is designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs to begin the process of successful business ownership,” Riden said in a Penn State news report. “Topics include evaluating business ideas, developing a business plan and exploring financial options.” At the conclusion of the camp, the students developed a business plan and replicated a product they believed would succeed in the modern economy. Riden provided SMART campers with an outline to work from in creating their business plans.

Through complex projects and competitions, the girls got a head start in learning about business planning, team building, and product development. The SBDC sets no age requirements for cultivating and nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit.

Through a series of courses and seminars, the Penn State SBDC provides resources to the public and to entrepreneurs in various stages of development. Experts instruct and guide participants on topics ranging from broad basics to specialized skills. A list of upcoming seminar topics and registration details is available here.