BLOOMSBURG, PA – The Rural Business Innovation Corporation has received the approval of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development to expand the geographic footprint of the Greater Susquehanna Keystone Innovation Zone. While the existing sub-zones in Danville and Bloomsburg will maintain their boundaries, the sub-zones located in Lewisburg and Selinsgrove received an update and new sub-zones were added to the towns of Berwick, Shamokin and Sunbury. The Greater Susquehanna KIZ brings more options for entrepreneurs and start-ups to set up and grow their businesses in these downtown areas.
The KIZ program must have a University/Research Partner in order to qualify an area for a zone. RBI could not have accomplished this zone expansion project without the support and involvement of the educational partners; Bloomsburg University, Bucknell University, Geisinger, Lackawanna College, Susquehanna University.
All of the locations hosting the GSKIZ have some portion of their Main Street or Market Street included in their designated zones. This provides companies located in the zone and participating in the KIZ program the opportunity to operate their business and be seen by the local community. The GSKIZ updates to existing zones include office space in Lewisburg and Selinsgrove, as well as limited industrial space in Selinsgrove.
Berwick Industrial Development Association (BIDA) and Berwick Next Steps helped RBI to designate a new zone in Berwick that offers innovative entrepreneurs manufacturing space and contains a variety of office spaces within the main hub of activity in the heart of Berwick.
To maximize the opportunity for innovation in Shamokin, RBI reached out to Senator John Gordner’s Office and State Representative Kurt Masser. Their contacts were crucial to finding the best placement for the GSKIZ in downtown Shamokin. The finished map includes manufacturing and distribution facilities along with prime office locations for pioneering business ideas to take root and grow.
"As a member of the statewide Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority Board, I was honored to be involved in the initial implementation of the KIZ program in 2004," said Senator Gordner (R-27). "The expansion of the GSKIZ into communities like Shamokin is important to create further opportunities for new businesses there."
Lackawanna College is RBI’s newest education partner and was integral to the process of getting an active KIZ in Sunbury. With help from Lackawanna College, Northumberland County Industrial Development Authority (NCIDA) and State Representative Lynda Schlegel Culver, the Sunbury community is provided with a catalyst for growing innovation.
As with anything there are requirements to being part of the Keystone Innovation Zone Program. Your business must be less than 8 years old, located in a designated zone and working in an approved industry sector. Qualifying business have the potential to be awarded up to $100,000 in tax credits after their third year in the program. As well as a vast network of universities and educational partners to progress their products or business to the next level. If you contact, LuCinda Craig, RBI Interim Director and GSKIZ Coordinator, she will help determine your eligibility and walk you through the steps to becoming KIZ qualified.
“This program was developed to provide start-ups with a financial incentive to grow. You get what you put into it. The program only benefits companies who have proven themselves through revenue growth and job creation,” says Ms. Craig.
With backing from the before mentioned educational partners, as well as; Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeast Pennsylvania, Berwick Industrial Development Association, First Columbia Bank & Trust, First Keystone Community Bank, Northumberland County Industrial Development Authority, Service 1st, and local State Representatives David Millard and Lynda Schlegel Culver, RBI is provided sustainability through resources and financial support from these partners making it able to manage the GSKIZ and other programs.
Michelle Van Gheem, Vice President of Research at Geisinger and RBI Board President sums up what RBI and the GSKIZ mean for these communities;
“The expansion of the Greater Susquehanna Keystone Innovation Zone creates increased potential for revitalizing and fostering measurable economic growth in our region. RBI and its partners provide an open door to the resources in our area. Local universities provide engineering, business and financial contributions, local businesses provide executive advice and direction along with their financial support. This unique environment is what provides RBI the opportunity to truly make a positive impact on economic growth in the Susquehanna Valley and surrounding areas. RBI is looking forward to working with the communities of Berwick, Shamokin and Sunbury to raise awareness for the services and support we provide.”
To view all the GSKIZ boundary maps and learn more about the program go to: www.ruralbusinessinnovation.org/gskiz