MEDIA, Pa. — Small businesses are a huge part of any community — and for the students, faculty and staff at Penn State Brandywine, they have become a source of inspiration and development.
“Penn State is a land-grant institution, and local economic development is part of our University’s strategic plan,” said Margie Bacheler, director of continuing education at Penn State Brandywine. “That’s one of the reasons we’ve made such an effort to work with the small businesses around us.”
Bacheler also is one of the main points of contact for Brandywine Boost, a program launched in 2017 with help from an Invent Penn State seed grant that seeks to forge new relationships between the Brandywine campus and small businesses in its vicinity.
Brandywine Boost clients receive advisory, practical and sometimes financial support from the campus. Some have worked with students and faculty members in relevant classes to strengthen and improve key aspects of their operations and address technical or organizational challenges.
“Some of our 2018-19 clients will be working with an information sciences and technology class on website and app support,” said Bacheler. “We plan to pair our newest clients with Penn State resources in the spring.”
Recently, Brandywine Boost’s eight 2018-19 clients were formally introduced to the campus at a kickoff event. Last year, the program provided support to five clients. This year, the number of applicants doubled, and the program was adjusted to include a few more businesses.
“By happenstance, all of our clients this year are businesses that are female-owned,” Bacheler noted. “This year was a very competitive process.”
Through Brandywine Boost, the campus recently participated in Global Entrepreneurship Week by hosting a seminar on financial management at Utility Works — one of the 2018-19 Brandywine Boost clients — on Small Business Saturday. Utility Works is a shared workspace managed by the Lansdowne Economic Development Corporation.
According to Bacheler, events like Global Entrepreneurship Week and Brandywine Boost have given the campus community a deeper understanding of local businesses and their needs.
“We are actually planning more public workshops through the seed grant this year in addition to one-on-one consultations — workshops on subjects like upselling and how to successfully harness social media,” she said. “We are starting to track specific needs from business to business, and we are learning how to become more effective because of that information.”
Bacheler also believes that forging strong relationships with local small businesses benefits Brandywine students, citing new connections and service-learning opportunities as proof of the symbiotic relationship between Brandywine Boost and its clients.
“We are exposing students to local entrepreneurs so they can learn on the job and network locally with potential employers,” she said. “We’re also matching small businesses with Penn State resources — giving them a chance to scale and leverage their local presence.”
The 2018-19 small businesses working with Brandywine Boost hail from Chester and Delaware counties and northern Delaware. They include:
- Blue Santa Beads in Media
- C Mac’s Barbershop in West Chester
- Crosstalks in Hockessin, Delaware
- Cusp It in Springfield
- Design by Daphne in West Grove
- Delightful Dishes Global in Wilmington, Delaware
- Utility Works in Lansdowne
- Learning Allegro Music Studio in Glenmoore
For more information about the 2018-19 Boost recipients, visit Brandywine Boost’s webpage.