HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN) – Could the Mahoning and Shenango valleys become the new Silicon Valley when it comes to business and innovation? Some small business experts think so.
The eCenter @ Lindenpointe in Hermitage is a small business incubator that helps new businesses through the beginning stages.
Over the past several years, record numbers of businesses are forming in the area and putting people back to work.
“People have a very entrepreneurial mindset. People have always been very entrepreneurial here, so now they are realizing we can do that again,” said Ketaki Desai, the executive director of eCenter @ Lindenpointe. “I think that is truly why we have the potential to be the next innovation hub.”
A major part of that growth can be attributed to Millennials — those born between 1980 and 2000.
Recent studies show nearly a third of them have started a business of some type and almost half plan to in the next three years.
“They were born in the technology age, so they look at technology differently than even I do or people a few generations after me,” Desai said. “Their attitude toward work is no longer this ‘9 to 5, I need to do my job for 100 years.’ It’s more, ‘What can I do to make things better?’ And, ‘I have it in myself to bring about this innovative change.'”
She said there has really been a change in workforce development; things like manufacturing and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. jobs are becoming few are far between.
That’s why entrepreneurship is key.
“There’s a statistic that says by 2025, 75 percent of the jobs are not going to look like they do today because a lot of people are going to find their own career and find their own field,” Desai said.
In recent years, it has really been the Millennials taking control of the startup industry and being their own bosses.
Mark Rossi started his company, Earthbound Crystals, about three years ago when he was just 17. He works internationally with mines and manufacturing companies to sell crystals, minerals and fossils.
Rossi credits places like the eCenter in Hermitage in making not only himself but the area grow successfully in the startup industry.
“There’s just such an amazing community for it, just to support people and taking on new ventures and trying new things within the entrepreneurial world,” he said.
As for this area being right between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, Desai said there’s a mentality of being resilient and getting more people back to work, giving this area the chance to compete with places like Silicon Valley.
She does have some advice for those who wanting to be part of a start-up.
“Just an idea by itself is not going to go anywhere. In fact, an idea by itself has no value,” she said. “If you really want to be successful, you have to take that idea and implement it.”
If you have an idea for a startup business, on March 2-4, the eCenter is holding its second annual Startup Weekend.
You’ll be able to learn from experts on ways to create and pitch your business plan. Any age is welcome to share his or her idea.
For more information and to sign up, contact the eCenter at 724-981-1829. You can also get tickets online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/startup-weekend-hermitage-tickets-39748874955
The center is located at 3580 Innovation Way in Hermitage.