News & Events

Ben Franklin Awarded SBA Grant To Develop Women’s eBusiness Center

State College, PAThe largest early stage investor in the region, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA, is pleased to announce it is one of the 20 recipients of an SBA grant intended to expand training resources that support women-owned small businesses across the country. The SBA’s Women Business Centers are a national network of 136 centers that offer one-on-one counseling, training, networking, workshops, technical assistance, and mentoring to women entrepreneurs on numerous business development topics, including business startup, financial management, marketing, and procurement.

Ben Franklin’s new initiative, the Women’s eBusiness Center of Excellence (WECOE), is well aligned with the program’s mission of supporting not only the larger, urban communities in its service territory, many of which contain robust systems of higher education, but also the rural populations that most need job creation.  Cathy von Birgelen, WECOE’s Executive Director, commented, “Recent studies done by the National Women’s Business Council, indicate that rural entrepreneurs, but particularly women, face not only higher poverty levels and geographical challenges, but also cultural and professional support issues. WECOE was founded on the principle that advances in technology and the availability of the internet can level the playing field substantially.

While there are many valuable resource providers that offer digital marketing theory and training, starting an online business involves a myriad of issues and decisions which are topics often excluded from traditional overviews. The establishment of WECOE will complement the efforts of our partners and service providers, while offering hands-on training augmented with one-on-one support.”

The WECOE program, which will begin offering services in mid to late 2021, will be available in 15 counties in central and northern Pennsylvania including Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, McKean, Mercer,