READING, PA (April 2, 2019) – Locally-owned businesses are the strongest part of the fabric that makes up our business community. Many of our top employers are homegrown, and many of our advanced innovators were born in Berks County.
That’s why Berks County Community Foundation opened the Jump Start Incubator program for entrepreneurs in 2012. I’d like to give you an update on where that program stands.
Since Jump Start’s founding, 60 companies have come through the Incubator’s doors, either as a tenant and client, or as a client in an off-campus location receiving counseling and services from Jump Start.
More than half of those companies have been minority- or woman-owned. About 75% are still in business, which is a better success rate than for startups nationwide (about half fail in a few years).
More than 130 jobs have been created, and the annual revenue from companies that were started in the Incubator exceeds $2 million.
The program’s former director retired in November and we ceased accepting members who need only counseling in their offsite locations. That was an easy decision to make because we didn’t have any members at that time who were classified as offsite clients, and that function was duplicating free services already offered by other local organizations.
There are currently six companies that are onsite members of Jump Start. We have taken two of the offices offline temporarily for renovations.
The companies in the Incubator meet regularly with the senior staff of the Community Foundation to receive guidance in areas ranging from accounting and human resources to marketing and strategy.
Each business has private offices in our environmentally-friendly building. Furniture is included with their rent along with utilities, Wi-Fi access, and a shared printer/copier. They have free use of two kitchens, a conference room, a board room, two classrooms, and other private meeting space in our building. Their visitors/customers are greeted by our receptionist.
When the renovations to the two offices are completed, likely later this year, we will have space for two more startups. Please keep Jump Start in mind as you come across entrepreneurs who need a workspace. Potential clients should contact Franki Aitken at email@example.com. We recently completed a makeover of JumpStartBerks.org, another source of information about the program.
I hope this clears up any confusion that may have existed in the community. We intend to continue to support this valued resource for local entrepreneurs.
Kevin K. Murphy, President
Berks County Community Foundation