CCEDC has long supported innovation and tech-based entrepreneurship through the Ideas x Innovation Network (i2n), a powerful ecosystem that ensures Chester County and all of Southeastern Pennsylvania is the premier place to start and grow a technology-driven company. In recent years, CCEDC recognized the need to provide critical support to a different type of entrepreneur: Those who may be women, minorities, veterans, lack a college degree or are looking to operate their business in an economically depressed area. Through our New Business Champions program, applicants may receive grants for technical assistance to start or grow a business. Likewise, our Business Resource Center in Coatesville offers consulting and mentoring services.
i2n Success Story: Nikigo
Nikigo is a prime example of the benefits the i2n network can offer entrepreneurs. When the Downingtown-based company first connected with CCEDC through its New Business Champions program, it sought a connection to other innovative and emerging companies in the region. After all, Nikigo founder Nicole Gordon had moved from Arizona specifically to leverage Chester County’s famous mushroom industry to produce her allergy-friendly Asian sauces. A regular attendee of the i2n Entrepreneurs’ Roundtable, Nikigo was assisted by i2n with her pitch to West Chester University’s Business Idea Competition, where she won first place. Next step: Exploring the possibility of up to $100,000 in sellable tax credits when operating in a Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ).
This year, we advanced CCEDC’s New Business Champions pilot to be a fully funded program that provides technical business assistance to woman and minority entrepreneurs. We also found a permanent home in Coatesville for our Business Resource Center to provide free business coaching services to small business owners and entrepreneurs. Meet some of the people we assisted in the videos we created to celebrate National Black Business Month.