6:05 min June 03, 2024

Entrepreneurs in the Poconos: ESU Innovation Center and The Stourbridge Project

Meet the entrepreneurs of the Poconos at the ESU Innovation Center and The Stourbridge Project.

Within these two brick buildings, an hour and 50 miles of Pocono Mountains separating them, are the next gen entrepreneurs helping to innovate and accelerate our economy.

Welcome to the East Stroudsburg University Innovation Center.

And the Stourbridge Project in Honesdale. The former elementary school has been a business incubator now for a full decade, spearheaded by WEDCO, Wayne County and Workforce Alliance.

"It's not just about a building. It's about building that community and working with others," said George Boudman with the Stourbridge Project.

Boudman helps cultivate that community, from the coworking space downstairs, a prototyping lab, training room, nearly all of them filled, following a big renovation project.


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"What we're finding is that folks come in, they might be introduced to the co-working space downstairs doing some R&D. We get introduced. They talk about a plan. We introduce them to some of our partners. Next thing you know, boom, they have an LLC. They're in the incubator program."

Stacked boxes surround Jason Deron of Flyleaf Print, one of the success stories at the Stourbridge Project.

"Casper Sleep was our first client, you know," said Deron. "Direct to consumer has been, you know, huge for us. You know, we specialize really in packaging. We become an extension of our startups."

And new to the project - Experta Consulting. Alejandra, like others here, is able to leverage the Keystone Innovation Zone benefits, and the inherent benefits like networking.

"It feels like a grown-up business now. We started Experta one year ago and again, just having a place and an office just makes it feel like now it's a real business and I'm not making it up," said Alejandra Mendoza with Experta Consulting.

Back to school, and ESU's Innovation Center. Patrice Dume is George's counterpart here, and making a similarly major impact.

"I provide entrepreneurial support for these businesses. And I have about 25 companies within our accelerator programs that employ about 99 employees," said Dume.

Between the Warrior Launchpad for students, wet labs where the startups can test ideas, and this accelerator is ramping up businesses like Orange Pavers.

"We are planning to expand and build more facilities on our property," said Viktor Kolesnyk of Orange Pavers.

This is headquarters, and the Orange Pavers plant in Jackson Township fired up in 2023 has 60 employees already!

"We're trying to cultivate a strong network and create an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Right. And the companies here are 0 to 8 years. So once they reach that eight year mark, our goal is to get them out into Monroe County, keep them here, keep those tax dollars here, keep that economic vitality growing," adde Dume.

Like Game Face Products - making innovative grooming solutions for men, or Marathon Studios which does e-commerce and then there's BIM, yes, BIM, Building Information Modeling, the Indian company Advenser trains from right here in the Innovation Center.

"Our BIM for Beginners classes are a 90-hour course. It usually takes about ten weeks to finish and it's four days a week training in the evening," explained Amy Lothian of Advenser.

Both hubs of entrepreneurship could be anywhere on the map, being right here in the Poconos, is the key ingredient for these entrepreneurs.

"We are located in the center of Poconos and which is a strategic location for us because we are very dependent on raw materials. And we all know that Pocono area is famous of a lot of quarries, and that's all the raw materials that we need in order to produce our product that we need," added Kolesnyk.

"I go to the city maybe once a month for events or stuff and I just get like very claustrophobic there. I'm like, 'Oh, I just need to go back.' So, yeah, it's the perfect thing. My clients are on the West Coast, in Utah, in Chicago, and I don't need to be there. I can do it all from here," explained Mendoza.

"I love being in the business accelerator building and the Innovation Center here. The whole ESU team is very supportive as far as creating events for us to foster those networking opportunities with the students, with professors, with other businesses in the accelerator," mentioned Lothian.

 "It's home, right? You know, it's familiar, you know? So, you know, having my kids grow up here was great. You know, everything. You know, you know people, you walk down Main Street, you know, people say hello, you know, it's a nice experience," added Deron.

"So when they outgrow us, we can put them in a community. You know, before the eight year trademark. So that's what we're looking to do. And, you know, partner and grow and grow and grow and create jobs in Wayne County and build a community here at the same time," said Boudman.

"I also like to highlight the fact that we're more than just rentable space, right? But we're more than just real estate. We provide you with resources, we provide you with things that can help you accelerate your business," added Dume.

Accelerating. Incubating. True to the entrepreneurial spirit found only in the Pocono Mountains.