Business is about to pick up in Danville, if the success of Bucknell University’s Small Business Development Center is any indication.

The Lewisburg business incubator, known as Startup Lewisburg, in existence for seven years, rents space to 12 companies in a Keystone Innovation Zone, which offers tax credits to help businesses grow. The Lewisburg project has resulted in 36 entrepreneurs creating more than 300 jobs and $14 million to $15 million in capital obtained, according to Dennis Hummer, incubator manager of the Lewisburg center and board chairman of DRIVE (Driving Real Innovation for a Vibrant Economy), based in Danville.

Merck and the Small Business Development Center will create an incubator in Danvillle for new businesses and students to learn about entrepreneurship. The incubator will be located in the DRIVE office building, along Railroad Street, in the former Metso Minerals complex.

According to the announcement made at DRIVE’s annual meeting last week, the incubator, modeled after Startup Lewisburg, will be known as Startup Danville. The Danville pilot project will work on health, wellness and innovations, Hummer said.

Incubator professionals will assist businesses in planning, design, business plans, marketing plans and finding capital.

That is good news, not only for fledgling entrepreneurs hoping to turn their dreams into a reality, but for the local economy, as well.

A Merck grant, the amount of which will be announced next month, will be the first phase, getting the project off the ground. The incubator will seek out additional community partners, Hummer said.

“We have had great talks with Bloomsburg University about their students and about Bucknell students in a collaborative environment to empower entrepreneurs,” he said.

Montour County Commissioner and DRIVE board member Trevor Finn said, “The venture will assist in entrepreneurship and hopefully mimic some of the successes that have already been established by Startup Lewisburg.”

We hope so, too. The Lewisburg incubator has shown what can happen locally in helping new businesses. Mimicking that success opens opportunities for even more.

DRIVE already has carved out a path for future successes. Executive Director Jennifer Wakeman said DRIVE, in its sixth year, has been put on a path to sustainability in coming years. She said dirt will be moving soon at its site for a rail access project, and neighboring counties are considering joining DRIVE.

That will provide a boost to both established and new businesses in the Danville area. That, combined with the new incubator hatching new enterprises, will go a long way in helping the local economy take off.

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