New Business Center Champions the Cause of Women Entrepreneurs

Feb 2, 2010

New Business Center Champions the Cause of Women Entrepreneurs

     There’s a new face of opportunity on The University of Scranton’s campus— one that’s providing valuable assistance for women seeking to develop and operate small businesses. 

     The Women’s Business Center (WBC), a partnership between The University of Scranton’s Kania School of Management and Small Business Development Center (SBDC), was established in 2009. Its objective is to help women gain knowledge and competence in the small business management field.

     Statistics prove that women-owned businesses have a significant impact on our nation’s economy — contributing $3 trillion and creating or maintaining 23 million jobs according to Elaine Tweedy, director of the SBDC at The University of Scranton. By offering one-on-one technical assistance, online training and tutorials, access to computer labs on campus, and quality educational programs, the WBC is fueling that powerful movement.

     Michael Mensah, Ph.D., dean of the Kania School of Management, led the effort to secure funding for the WBC through a grant awarded under Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED), as implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.

     “From its conception three years ago this project has been a very high personal priority ,” said Dr. Mensah. “One of our region’s biggest needs is in the area of entrepreneurship, especially for women, who are a minority not only among local business proprietors, but also in the Kania School. The Women’s Business Center fulfills two of the missions of The University of Scranton: applying what is learned in the classroom to practical situations, as well as serving our region.” He credits Tweedy, and Kenneth Lord, Ph.D., associate dean of the Kania School of Management, for making the WBC a viable resource for women entrepreneurs in our region.

     Tweedy sees the WBC as a work in progress.

     “In the near future, the center will have its own dedicated space, a link to statewide business development resources and bilingual capabilities for Spanish-speaking clients. This is an exciting opportunity for women interested in running or growing a small business,” said Tweedy.

     A true partnership, the WBC is a collaboration of SBDC staff, Kania School of Management faculty and university students trained by the SBDC to act as consultants. Its clients are introduced to everything from start-up procedures, to developing business or marketing plans, to creating financial projections. Many women who are interested in obtaining financing for their business, but have little or no educational experience in small business management, can take advantage of the center’s 10-week certification program. Tweedy points out that although a nominal fee is charged for the center’s certification and training programs, its consultation services are free and some training programs are underwritten by outside organizations.

     Two area business women have already benefited from the services offered by the WBC.

     “The education and mentors available at The University of Scranton provide women with the knowledge and support to run successful businesses,” said Francene Dudziec, owner of Monogram Muse in Clarks Summit. 

     “The University of Scranton provides great opportunities for women to enhance their business skills through educational programs and one-on-one counseling,” said Jill Aldrich, proprietor of Pure Pennsylvania Gallery and General Store in Great Bend.

     The SBDC — which is funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Small Business Administration and The University of Scranton — serves small businesses and prospective entrepreneurs in Bradford, Lackawanna, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne and Wyoming counties.

     A schedule of training dates is being determined for the spring 2010. For additional information about the WBC, contact SBDC at The University of Scranton at 570-941-7588.

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