As the Pocono Mountains region's economy continues to diversify, entrepreneurship — particularly in the tech sectors — has become an increasingly important part of that mix.
“Entrepreneurs and small businesses are the large businesses of our future," says Chuck Leonard, executive director of the Pocono Mountains Economic Development Corp. "An ever-changing marketplace requires business people that are innovative and creative and a connected business environment where they can prosper."
The Right Address
The amenities that make the Pocono Mountains a premier tourism destination — an enviable quality of life highlighted by an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities, a pro-business environment, access to the country’s major markets and a prime location between New York and Philadelphia — are the same amenities attracting entrepreneurs to the region, Leonard says.
“Many companies and business people have relocated to Monroe County and the Pocono Mountains after first having vacationed here. Some of our best small and large companies, such as Weiler Corp. and Sanofi, are here because the principals loved it when they visited and decided to move here permanently with their businesses,” Leonard says.
The Right Resources
The region has been investing in critical infrastructure to support technology-oriented entrepreneurship. In November 2017, gigabit-speed cable internet went live in parts of Monroe County, opening up opportunities for entrepreneurship in rural areas of the region.
Another distinct advantage of the Pocono Mountains region is East Stroudsburg University (ESU), which houses the ESU Entrepreneurship Leadership Center and its array of resources to support startups.
ESU’s award-winning Business Accelerator program has helped create a robust entrepreneurial culture that attracts a pipeline of inspiring entrepreneurs and early-stage startup companies, says Mary Frances Postupack, vice president of economic development and entrepreneurship at ESU. The Business Accelerator has helped launch a number of companies in the region and offers managerial and technical support, affordable office space and a collaborative environment that encourages innovation.
Among the companies formed at ESU is Marathon Studios, which manages a network of web properties, apps and services used by more than 2.5 million people around the world every month. Other companies launched at ESU include Pinpoint Solutions LLC, an enterprise resource planning software application development and training company, and LYME-AID, a tick testing kit for people and pets and the first student-faculty research project commercialized at ESU.
The Right Facilities
The Stourbridge Project in Wayne County is another example of the region’s commitment to entrepreneurship. A co-working space and business incubator that helps to support rural entrepreneurs by creating a space for people to meet, work and share ideas, Stourbridge has helped launch a number of web-based startups, including Jet Landis Design, Two by Two Solutions, Grove Street Software, Syntactik, NEPA Revenue & Funding, and Pocono Mountain Film & TV.
The facility features a digital media studio, a professional-grade prototyping lab, a 3-D printer, laser cutter, a desktop CNC machine and other tools. In 2017, the Stourbridge Project was designated a Keystone Innovation Zone, which offers tax incentives for qualifying resident startups and a connection to other resources.
Numerous Wayne County businesses were started in the spirit of entrepreneurship, from the first commercial train engine to run on track in the U.S. to the Highlights children's magazine to Boyce Productions, the custom fabrication and design company that built the CNN World News set in New York City.
"Wayne County businesses have always exhibited an ability to adapt, innovate and prosper, while maintaining a level of craftsmanship that puts these companies at the top of their respective industries," says Troy Bystrom, who oversees marketing and business development at the Wayne Economic Development Corp.
“As the economic and business landscape continues to shift, there are more and more people going into entrepreneurial ventures, and in order to support them, we are actively pursuing a robust high-speed broadband network, creating co-working and shared office space, and providing networking opportunities in our local communities,” he says.