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The Corner in New Kensington opens the door for entrepreneurs

Matthew Medsger
| Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, 3:36 p.m.
Westmoreland County Commissioner Charles Anderson, Commissioner Ted Kopas, Mayor Tom Guzzo, Commissioner Gina Cerilli, are pictured with Penn State President Eric Barron and Penn State New Kensington Chancellor Kevin Snider during the grand opening of The Corner in New Kensington. Wednesday, Dec 6, 2017.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Westmoreland County Commissioner Charles Anderson, Commissioner Ted Kopas, Mayor Tom Guzzo, Commissioner Gina Cerilli, are pictured with Penn State President Eric Barron and Penn State New Kensington Chancellor Kevin Snider during the grand opening of The Corner in New Kensington. Wednesday, Dec 6, 2017.
A trolley shuttles people from the Knead Cafe to the The Corner for a grand opening. Wednesday Dec 6, 2017.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
A trolley shuttles people from the Knead Cafe to the The Corner for a grand opening. Wednesday Dec 6, 2017.

With the flip of a comically large ceremonial switch, the lights came on at the corner of New Kensington's Fifth Avenue and Seventh Street Wednesday morning, and Penn State New Kensington Chancellor Kevin Snider could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

The flip of that switch represents eight years of effort coming to fruition for Snider, the city of New Kensington and countless other community figures and partners, as it marked the moment when The Corner officially opened for business.

"It's probably the biggest honor of my life and the greatest project of my career to have been a part of," Snider said.

The Corner is an entrepreneur training center and co-working space that anchors one end of New Kensington's revitalization efforts, called the Corridor of Innovation.

The Corner aims to provide Alle-Kiski Valley entrepreneurs and small businesses a place to start with tools to help them succeed.

Mayor Tom Guzzo said The Corner will help stimulate economic growth in the city by offering shared working spaces and training. It will be a place for aspiring entrepreneurs, providing support and access to business programs for PSNK, community college and local high school students, plus representatives of small businesses looking to expand.

"This is truly a significant step in revitalizing our city of New Kensington," Guzzo said. "This is the start of it all. Let's move forward together and begin our 'new' New Kensington now."

Guzzo said, since becoming mayor, his goals have been to change the perception of how the city used to be and where it was going, and to establish downtown as a professional business service district.

"This center accomplished both," he said. "The entrepreneurial side plays a large role in redefining who we are and what we will become. The shared space allows people to overcome obstacles and work and share ideas in a great environment."

Penn State President Eric Barron travelled to New Kensington for the opening of The Corner. The event is the 17th opening of such an institution since Barron began overseeing Penn State's satellite campus system.

The program is part of an initiative called Invent Penn State, a program that aims to bolster economic development and job creation throughout the commonwealth.

Entrepreneurial training at The Corner is provided through LaunchBox, also part of Invent Penn State.

LaunchBox is a 10-week training session designed to provide resources to help entrepreneurs take their ideas from the conceptual stage to market.

According to Barron, opening a center in New Kensington will encourage the growth the city has strived after.

"As I've told people over and over again, we don't want to be an institution that brags about our economic impact, we want to be an institution that brags about the degree to which we drive the economy with our ideas and our partnerships," he said.

Barron said New Kensington is a perfect example of how people, working in partnership toward a shared goal, can make that vision a reality.

One of those partners was Westmoreland County, itself. Guzzo said, without the assistance and support of the county, The Corner still would be just an idea.

"Their financial investment has helped The Corner become a reality. We could not have accomplished our goals without the incredible support and partnership of the county," he said.

Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4675, mmedsger@tribweb.com, or on Twitter @matthew_medsger.

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