Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Map Highlights Resources in Lehigh Valley for Startups
By Colin McEvoy on February 19, 2019
A new, interactive map has been launched that highlights organizations, initiatives, and resources available in the Lehigh Valley to entrepreneurs and startup companies.
This new tool was fostered by the Entrepreneurship Council of the Lehigh Valley (ECLV), a council of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), which is committed to listening to the region’s entrepreneurial community and identifying its unmet needs.
“This is a tool that has been discussed for a long time,” said ECLV Chair Asher Schiavone. “We’re seeking to map out the resources available in the Lehigh Valley, and we envision it evolving over time based on feedback.”
A link to the map can be found here. Resembling a virtual web in appearance, it links users to such resources as early-stage funding, prototyping and fabrication, news resources and business plan development, Schiavone said.
It also provides links to such regional organizations as educational institutions, startup spaces, government and non-profit economic development organizations. (Please visit the map for a full list.) Clicking on any resource or entity in the map will provide additional information and links to external websites.
“Right now we are focused on having everyone represented and will fill in the details as we go,” said Schiavone, who is also the Economic Development Coordinator for the city of Bethlehem.
The popular and free KUMU platform was used to create and host the map. Anyone representing an organization or resource that wishes to be listed on the map can contact Melody Bradford, LVEDC Director of Business Outreach Programs, at [email protected] or (610) 266-6633.
“The Lehigh Valley is rich with resources and organizations dedicated to providing entrepreneurs the necessary tools and guidance to make sure their startup businesses succeed,” Bradford said. “This map will provide an excellent overview of what’s available to entrepreneurs as they seek guidance in refining their business goals, identifying their markets, and perfecting their business plans.”
Early feedback from startup companies has been encouraging.
“I’ve always found things like infographics do a great job of taking piles of information and translating them into something concise, powerful and memorable” said Paul Hodges, CEO of Soltech Solutions in Bethlehem. “Myself being a visual learner, it was incredible to see a virtual and visual representation of our local resources. Impressive stuff.”
Users are encouraged to embed the map on their websites to promote and encourage navigation of Lehigh Valley’s vast entrepreneurial network.
The map includes instructions on how to access and use the platform when you first visit and each organization will have a snapshot of services that they provide.
Jeff Boerner, Director of the Northampton Community College Fab Lab, was the ECLV Chair in 2018 prior to Schiavone’s appointment this year, and was instrumental in launching this initiative and selection of the KUMU platform.
“Kumu has fulfilled a major hurdle that our regional entrepreneurship council was having trouble getting past,” Boerner said. “After the discovery of Kumu, the council was able to efficiently and graphically collate the regions entrepreneurial resources under one platform, and do it for very little capital outlay.”
This platform is not intended to serve as a roadmap or a guide for entrepreneurs to follow based on the current stage of their startup. Instead, it seeks to place partners of the ECLV into simple categories that can help the viewer understand the organization’s primary role in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
A committee of the ECLV will regularly review the platform to ensure all information, links, and contacts are up to date. In addition to helping support existing and future startup companies to the region, the platform signifies the region’s collective commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation that can even help in applying for grants and other benefits that have not yet been identified.
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