Bizzarro, Merski, Harkins: $1.5 million grant will expand Innovation Beehive, spur business growth

ERIE, Oct. 15 – A $1,499,225 million grant will allow the Northwest Pennsylvania Innovation Beehive Network to expand and serve more area entrepreneurs and businesses, according to state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Bob Merski, and Pat Harkins, all D-Erie.

The lawmakers said the grant to Penn State University from the Appalachian Regional Commission will fund a project to expand the Beehive’s reach and services, helping it to spur new businesses and support existing ones throughout the region and beyond, into Southern New York and Ohio.

“The Beehive is a one-of-a-kind resource that harnesses the talents of our area’s best minds and pools resources to provide specialized expertise and services to businesses and entrepreneurs,” Bizzarro said. “Securing this funding means that the collaborative’s grant-funded centers will be able cast a wider net and serve more businesses and entrepreneurs, generating more economic activity and jobs for our region.”

Merski agreed, saying, “With the new funding, more area businesses, inventors and entrepreneurs will benefit from the Beehive’s unique faculty and student-based services, which include everything from graphic design and video production to consulting and market analysis. The new project is going to help the collaborative expand into new services and areas as it supports hundreds of businesses, helps create new ventures and leverages thousands in private investment. It’s an exciting investment in our area’s talent.”

Harkins said, “By providing no-cost services, information and expertise, the Beehive breaks down barriers for entrepreneurs and owners who might not otherwise have a chance to succeed. The new project is going to help more of those aspiring business owners start new ventures or overcome obstacles to success. It’s a terrific investment in our regional economy that will trigger business growth and help level the playing field for aspiring entrepreneurs.”

As a result of this project, 90 businesses, 18 communities, 100 participants, and 100 students will be served; 70 businesses, 15 communities, 90 participants, and 90 students 70 businesses will be improved; 15 businesses and 20 jobs will be created; and $500,000 in private investment will be leveraged.

Founded in 2014, the Innovation Beehive Network is a partnership between Penn State’s Behrend campus in Erie, Edinboro University, Gannon University, and Mercyhurst University. Each of the network’s sites – including Blasco Library, Penn State Behrend, Edinboro University, Gannon University and Mercyhurst University – are responsible for a specific service.