Pennsylvania Company Chronicles
Learn why three entrepreneurs launched their businesses in Pennsylvania.
Co-Founder & CEO, Soltech Solutions, Bethlehem
Paul Hodges, along with his two business partners, “took a leap of faith” and opened Soltech Solutions, which sells plant lights, in Bethlehem in 2014.
Why did you choose to open your business in Bethlehem?
I remember sitting down and having a conversation with the guys and being like, “Hey, we need to make an ultimatum,” because we were all living in our respective parts of the world after college. We said, “Look, we have to pick one place and give it everything, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll go back to doing whatever else we were going to do.” CNN had just put out an article on the top 100 places to start a business. No. 58 stuck out – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. We realized we wanted to move here when we decided to check it out, and we just walked Main Street, SouthSide, and all of a sudden, it kind of hit home. We could just see this as the kind of climate and culture we needed to grow our company, but also grow ourselves socially.
What resources have been available to you and your team?
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and Lehigh University have been phenomenal. The Small Business Development Center – I didn’t know how to write a business plan, and I go in, we apply for this business competition, and they just sit down with me and – for free – they show me the skills I need to be a competent entrepreneur.
Founder, Latchkey, Philadelphia
Former Texas and New York resident Marc Faletti moved to South Philadelphia in 2018 and later opened Latchkey in June of 2022. Latchkey – as Faletti describes it – is “a love letter to the ’80s and ’90s,” selling era-related records, socks, candles and other merchandise.
Why did you choose to open Latchkey in Philadelphia?
This is a place where people are really supportive of their community. They’re super passionate about their neighborhoods, their streets, all that stuff, so when someone opens a business, as long as it’s something that’s adding to the community, the community is going to support the heck out of you right back.
What kind of entrepreneurial support did you receive?
I work with the Temple University Small Business Development Center. You reach out to them as a business, and they connect you with an adviser who can help you at any stage of a small or micro business … I’m not sure I could have pulled it off without their help.
Owner, Purrista Cat Café, Erie
Dena Rupp opened Purrista Cat Café in her hometown in 2022. The business provides a relaxed environment where guests can both get their coffee or tea fix and interact with adoptable cats.
Why was Erie an appealing location to open a business?
Erie is such a wonderful place to work, play and live. A lot of people talked about Erie as a great place to raise a family, but I also felt it just had so much potential to really bring in people to revitalize the area, bring in unique ideas, and I kind of wanted to be one of those people.
What is an example of an entrepreneurial resource that helped you?
I was part of Paramount Pursuits’ THRIVE in ERIE, which was a one-year program, and I was actually paired with a mentor. It was life-changing to be connected with a mentor who has already gone through the small-business hoops.
Get to Know Pennsylvania
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