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Wilkes Barre Chamber of Commerce announces Connect Program

Emily Sutton, Guest Writer

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Coming to Wilkes-Barre is a new five piece program being implemented by the Greater Wilkes Barre Chamber of Commerce. The program, named Connect, is an initiative created to ensure that all entrepreneurs, start-ups and existing businesses have access to the providers, services and facilities they need to grow their business in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The five core focus areas featured are Spotlight, Pitch, Honor, Intern and the 101 Series.

This quintessential program is looking to spur the next wave of economic development in the area by providing a depth of opportunity within the community by building networks and making connections. Wilkes-Barre Connect is housed within the THINK. Center, a co-working space located off Public Square, featuring a 50-seat theater and three tech-driven conference rooms to be utilized by students and entrepreneurs.

The Wilkes Barre Connect system is predicated on the collaborative efforts among the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber, the Wilkes University Small Business Development Center, the Family Business Alliance, the Northeast Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the Diamond City Partnership, the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development and the Wilkes University Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship.

“Since Wilkes Barre Connect will help link together our academic institutions with our business and industry leaders, students will benefit from being connected with internships, jobs, networking events and various experiences offered by Connect and our community businesses and organizations in the process. Students are also encouraged to utilize the THINK Center if they are in need of a co-working space or want somewhere new to connect, create, and innovate,” Holly K. Pilcavage, Wilkes-Barre Connect manager said.

There are two Connect events coming soon: one focusing on the Spotlight Series, and the other on the Pitch program. Brought by Penn State Wilkes-Barre, the Spotlight series will hold an event on Sept. 27 at 5 p.m in the T.H.I.N.K. Center. The focus of this event will be women’s entrepreneurship, featuring speakers and video spotlights which highlight local female entrepreneurs and female-led organizations, as well as a networking mixer.

There will also be another event for the Pitch program, presented by the Willary Foundation. Pitch is a formalized process to introduce entrepreneurs, start-ups and existing businesses to a regional investor network. Interested parties can complete a venture profile online.  On Oct. 5, two businesses will be selected to present to local investors at the T.H.I.N.K. Center on November 1st. Applications will be accepted until Sept. 27.

The Willary Foundation is a family foundation dedicated to developing ideas and projects that are interesting, creative and imaginative and which benefit communities in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Willary seeks to foster groups with unique, innovative or unusual ideas and efforts.

“The Willary Foundation is a family foundation dedicated to inspiring the creative and imaginative spirit of Northeastern Pennsylvania, so it’s only fitting that they’ve partnered with the Chamber and Wilkes-Barre Connect Initiative to launch Pitch,” said Joseph Boylan, CEO & Founder of Argent Eagle Development Company. “This partnership will elevate the entrepreneurial spirit in our region by providing start-ups access to the resources they need to grow.  We can’t thank the Willary Foundation enough for their dedication to Wilkes-Barre Connect and Northeastern Pennsylvania.”

To submit an application to the Pitch program visit the Connect website at www.wilkesbarreconnect.org. To register for the upcoming Spotlight event, visit www.wilkes-barre.org/events, or for more information contact Holly Pilcavage at 570-408-1732.

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Wilkes Barre Chamber of Commerce announces Connect Program