(Posted June 22, 2005)

Thomas Kepple, president of Juniata College announced June 17 at Juniata Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership that the college and Huntingdon community received a $200,000 grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development to nurture new businesses. The Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) program's goal is to give Pennsylvania college and university graduates incentive to remain in the state.

"My hope is that the new wave of Juniata alumni can develop their ideas right here in Huntingdon County," Kepple says. Kepple plans to achieve this goal through the new Juniata College/Huntingdon County KIZ designation that covers the college and Huntingdon's business district and industrial park, which the Department of Community and Economic Development Deputy Secretary Richard Overmoyer unveiled at the JCEL offices Friday.

Deputy Secretary Richard Overmoyer says, "Through innovative programs like the Keystone Innovation Zones Gov. Rendell and his administration have dedicated the needed resources and tools through innovative programs like the Keystone Innovations Zones for the commonwealth's universities and colleges to succeed and become strong economic drivers in our communities. Our future depends upon harnessing the intellectual capital emerging from our first-rate schools and universities. The practice of exporting Pennsylvania's talent out of state will come to an end with the assistance of the KIZ program."

The Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority (BFTDA) approved $200,000 in operational funding for the Juniata College/Huntingdon County KIZ. Coordinated by the Huntingdon County Business and Industry Inc. and partnering with Juniata College, the KIZ will support new business start-ups and strengthen technology transfer throughout the region. The zone will help to foster and expand the entrepreneurial-driven economic base in the areas of information technology and the life sciences.

The KIZ program offers the commonwealth's graduates an incentive to remain in Pennsylvania by establishing an environment with many opportunities, accessible help, and encouraged, supported and rewarded innovation. KIZs will encourage the creation of new business, expand the research and development sector of Pennsylvania's economy and facilitate technology transfer to existing companies. Fifteen KIZs have been certified and established throughout the commonwealth since the program's inception in early 2004.

"Between 1995 and 2000, about 30,000 Pennsylvania graduates migrated to other states, taking their talent and training with them," Overmoyer says. The assistance the program offers is a way "to harness energy and ideas" before the graduates leave the state. Tim Schrack, Huntingdon County Business & Industry President said that since its founding in 1876, Juniata College has been linked to the community, but "there has not always been an easy way for the business developers and inventors of the county to interact with the resources available at the college."

He said Juniata's development of their own program to provide startup resources for new businesses, the Sill Business Incubator, and their affiliation with HCB&I strengthened the KIZ bid. Even though there are 200 colleges in Pennsylvania, not all of them qualify for the KIZ designation.

The commonwealth's economic success depends on important economic drivers such as the KIZ's. A prime source of that economic funding comes from the more than 200 institutions of higher learning, located in communities throughout Pennsylvania. As a crucial part of Rendell's $2.3 billion economic stimulus package, the KIZ's will encourage the creation of new businesses, expand the research and development sector of Pennsylvania's economy and facilitate technology transfers to existing companies.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.