In 2017 the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress aquired a long vacant and blighted commercial property through donation and began working with community and economic development partners to renovate it as a small business incubator.
At approximately the same time Penn State University launched its Invent Penn State initiative to drive job creation, economic development, and student career success by connecting university resources with entrepreneurs. Recognizing the opportunity for a partnership, the Alliance began working with Penn State to establish the Hazleton LaunchBox and raised funds to renovate the building and develop a plan for broad community engagement.
The plan developed a framework for The Hazleton Innovation Collaborative (THInC), which uses the LaunchBox to leverage the resources and partnerships of local institutions and community organizations in order to nurture the growth of entrepreneurship in the Greater Hazleton Area.
This $1.2 million project has been funded with private donations from seven local banks via the PA DCED Neighborhood Assistance tax credit program, and several state grants, including PA Department of Community and Economic Development Local Share and Keystone Communities grants.
Thanks to a $1 million gift by the late Hazleton attorney and community philanthropist, Pasco L. Schiavo, Esq., it is one of only three Penn State LaunchBoxes that have been fully endowed and matched with a $1 million Invent Penn State grant to support its operations in perpetuity.
Clockwise from left: Ribbon cutting with Penn State President Eric Barron, Sep. 2019; new front entrance; blighted conditions prior to renovation; same view as above, now co-working and meeting space.