The goal was to diversify, expand and strengthen the economic base of Monroe County and northeastern Pennsylvania through community engagement, innovation and entrepreneurship in partnership with East Stroudsburg University.
Monroe County, with a population of 169,842, is one of the fastest growing counties in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The County has a per capita income of $31,032 and is characterized by an unemployment rate which is 1.2% greater than Pennsylvania’s average unemployment rate. Unique to Monroe County is the influx of residents (20,000+) who commute daily to New York and New Jersey for higher-paying jobs and the County’s dependency on tourism which employees over 10,000 people and is estimated to be the top dollar-generating industry in the county (source: Center for Workforce Information and Analysis).
East Stroudsburg University in collaboration with public and private economic and business partners, embarked on an entrepreneurial project aimed at creating high-tech companies and life-sustaining careers in Monroe County, Pennsylvania.
- Monroe 2020 – Faced with unprecedented growth and a declining tax base, the Monroe County community embarked on Monroe 2020, a comprehensive plan to shape the future of the County. The economic development segment of – that plan identified the following priorities: Attract new enterprises, Diversify the County’s economy, Pursue as a priority business retention and expansion, and Develop the required infrastructure to support economic development.
- Feasibility Study – East Stroudsburg University engaged George Henry George Partners and Dilk’s Consulting to conduct a feasibility study to determine if the Monroe County/northeast PA region could support the development of a University Business Park and Innovation Center. The study clearly indicated that YES, the region was ready to embark on an entrepreneurial project aimed at creating high-tech, life- sustaining careers.
- Funding – ESU and the ESU Center for Research and Economic Development, a 501c3 affiliate organization of ESU, prepared, submitted and secured in excess of $5.7M in grants for construction and infrastructure and over $2.3M in grants for program development for the ESU Innovation Center.
- Construction of the Innovation Center – The ESU Innovation Center, a $11.25M, 51,000 sq. ft. facility, housing the ESU Business Accelerator Program, Entrepreneurial Leadership Center, Bioscience Wet Labs, Computer Labs, Research and Economic Development, and Northeast Wildlife DNA Lab officially opened May 4, 2012. The Center was constructed by the ESU Center for Research and Economic Development.
- Entrepreneurial Ecosystem – The construction of the Innovation Center has led to the development of a technology focused entrepreneurial ecosystem in Monroe County that is now serving as a cornerstone for further economic development by stimulating collaborative research, technology transfer and commercialization, and job creation.
- Job Creation – Within two years of the ESU Innovation Center opening, eleven high-tech early-stage companies are located in the Innovation Center, participating in the Business Accelerator Program. These companies employ 33 full-time employees, seven part-time employees, and provided 71 internship/externship opportunities for students
- First Commercialization – For the first time in the 119 year history of ESU: LymeAid, a tick testing kit for people and pets, created through ESU’s Student Business Plan Competition, was commercialized. ESU signed a non-exclusive License Agreement with Garrett Hewitt International, LLC to commercialize Lyme-Aid. LYME-AID is now trademarked in the US and filing is in process in Canada. ESU licensed the trademark and negotiated a License fee in addition to a running royalty fee.
- International Outreach – ESU’s close proximity to New York and Philadelphia makes the ESU Innovation Center a location of interest to international companies seeking a presence in Pennsylvania. ESU, in collaboration with the PA Office of International Business Development, hosts international delegates at the Innovation Center.
- Economic Impact – Based on the Implan model as prepared by the Northeast Pennsylvania Alliance, the economic impact of the ESU Innovation Center is expected to result in: 595 jobs; and $57M into the Monroe County economy; 630 jobs and $59.4M in northeastern Pennsylvania; and 741 jobs and $85.7M in Pennsylvania.
- Entrepreneurial Leadership Center (ELC) – The ELC is infusing entrepreneurship across the region, community and campus through its Business Plan Boot Camps, Student Business Plan Competitions, Entrepreneurship Across the Colleges incentives and entrepreneurial mentoring. To date, over 31 Faculty/Staff and 1000 Students have participated in these events.
Monroe County Economic Development Strategy: In 2011, Monroe County engaged BBP & Associates to prepare a series of recommendations and implementation actions that build on Monroe 2020 and define a cohesive county-wide economic development policy for Monroe County. Among their recommendations are the following:
ESU Entrepreneurial Initiatives (Long Term Recommendations)
These recommendations are important to the overall economic development strength and growth of the County and are led by or heavily coordinated with ESU:
- Elevate marketing and business development through expanded regional collaboration
- Collaboratively link colleges’ and universities’ research and development programs
- Expand bioscience education and training
- Attract and retain skilled workers required to expand the bioscience sector
- Further develop the entrepreneurial support system
- Ensure appropriate real estate options are in place to meet the needs of the targeted segments
- Diversify the economic base and create employment opportunities for ESU grads and faculty/staff family members (i.e. spouses of individuals who relocate with ESU).
UEDA Awards of Excellence Finalists presented at the Annual Summit in Chattanooga on October 22, 2012. Summit attendees then voted for the best initiative in each category.