Penn State program helps see record number of new businesses started

University Park, Pa. -- Last fall, three Centre County friends were discussing the idea of transforming their passion for riding bicycles into a business opportunity. Carla Myers, an attorney, is an avid cyclist and artist. Kristin Peterson has traveled the world and led tours in Alaska and the Yukon, among other places. Maria Wherley is an avid cyclist and former road, mountain bike and triathlon racer.

With the assistance of the Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the three decided on a unique business model for Central Pennsylvania: a bicycle touring business targeting women -- with some rides offering opportunities for customers to receive massages or attend yoga sessions. In March 2010, they officially established See Jane Ride LLC, headquartered in Boalsburg, Pa., with a fleet of 15 bicycles.

This is just one success story from the Penn State SBDC’s recently released 2009 annual report. The SBDC, which provides free business assistance to small firms and start-ups in Centre and Mifflin counties, helped start 29 businesses in 2009, an all-time high.

SBDC director Heather Fennessey attributes the record number of new businesses started to ongoing economic conditions.

“People are looking for new opportunities,” she said.

The SBDC also worked with a total of 559 clients and helped create or retain 188 jobs, another record.

Peterson said about See Jane Ride: “The SBDC helped me research the business that I wanted to start -- they were a valuable resource as my partners and I developed our business plan.”

For more information on the Penn State SBDC, visit http://www.sbdc.psu.edu/ online.

Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is part of a nationwide network of more than 1,000 centers. The Penn State SBDC provides free business assistance to small firms and business start-ups in Centre and Mifflin counties, enabling them to compete and grow in today’s highly competitive global economy. Penn State SBDC is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010