Startup Alleghenies attracts hundreds of entrepreneurs
More than 200 entrepreneurs have registered with Startup Alleghenies since the program was launched last year.
The program is funded by the Southern Alleghenies Planning & Development Commission through an Appalachian Regional Commission grant and covers Cambria, Blair and Somerset counties.
“We have just completed a report at the close of our first year to see how well we achieved our primary goal of identifying, recruiting and supporting entrepreneurs in the three counties we serve,” said Debbi Prosser, director of business development for the Southern Alleghenies Planning & Development Commission.
In the first year Somerset County had 60 people register and 37 enroll with a coach, according to the organization. Blair County had 74 and 52 and Cambria County had 77 and 53.
“And we’re off to a great start for this year having just registered five more entrepreneurs,” Prosser said.
Somerset County’s coach, Dan Parisi, said that since June there have been six new projects in the county.
“All six of those are proprietary in nature,” he said.
He said the previous projects did not include a high number of proprietary projects. He said he is encouraged by the program’s success. Parisi said that as investors get projects off the ground, they will need to manufacture products, which will help the local economy and job market.
“Things take time to develop,” he said. “But I am super-encouraged. This stuff will continue to grow exponentially year after year.”
Parisi said MT Arms owner Mark Kasterko, who won third in the Big Idea contest last year with his shotgun retention device, should have his product on the market in about six weeks.
“The reason Mark is unique is he is going to be the first company in Somerset County’s program to successfully invest in a project, get it to market and sell it,” he said.