Penn State Sees Potential in New Kensington Project

January 8, 2016 | Kris B. Mamula | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Community leaders are counting on entrepreneurs to spur a new economy in a pocket of Westmoreland County once dominated by aluminum manufacturing.

Penn State University president Eric Barron and elected officials were on hand Thursday to open a small-business incubator in New Kensington. The new Alle-Kiski Economic Generator is the brainchild of Mr. Barron, and it will occupy about 4,500 square feet of a one-time department store on Fourth Avenue in a core business district dotted with boarded-up storefronts.

Mayor Thomas Guzzo said the successful rebirth of Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood —which features startup accelerators AlphaLab, the Beauty Shoppe and others — offered a template for what’s possible in New Kensington.

Penn State New Kensington campus chancellor Kevin Snider acknowledged past efforts at economic revitalization in the area that fell short, adding that conditions now are ripe for change.

“It’s a great day for the entire Alle-Kiski Valley,” he said. “Something is different this time.”

Mr. Barron has made community economic development a priority since last year as part of the university’s Invent Penn State initiative. The New Kensington center, one of six similar centers opened by the university statewide, will receive $50,000 a year over three years to offer below-market rental rates at the center for people who are interested in starting a business.

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