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Local entrepreneur gets a boost from Small Business Development Center

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On an average day, Trina Worrell Benjamin handles invoices, returns calls and emails, directs a team of nearly a dozen employees and manages a client roster that has included big names like Rite Aid and Toys“R”Us. She admits her first steps into entrepreneurship were not easy. But with the help of…

Local entrepreneur gets a boost from Small Business Development Center

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Bucknell University SBDC Hosts Annual Celebration of Small Business

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On July 17, business owners, legislators, local leaders, and Bucknell University celebrated entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial leaders as the SBDC presented the Small Business Person of the Year Award, Innovation in New Product Development Award, and the Charles H. Coder Entrepreneurial Leadership Award at the Elaine Langone Center on the campus of Bucknell University.

Over 60 guests, including PA Representatives Keller, Culver, and Masser gathered to see Sheri Collins, Deputy Secretary, Office of Technology and Innovation, PA's Department of Community & Economic Development;  Bruce Smith, CEO of the Central PA Chamber of Commerce; and Bucknell University's President, John Bravman share remarks and recognize the achievements of small business owners and community leaders.

Steven Stumbris, Director, Bucknell SBDC commented, “The SBDC is pleased to welcome partners and colleagues from throughout Pennsylvania to celebrate small businesses and the entrepreneurial leaders who help them thrive. Small businesses are vital, engaged, and exciting contributors to job creation and the economy, and are critical to the future of our communities.”

The awards were given as follows:

Charles H. Coder Entrepreneurial Leadership Award

In recognition of visionary, entrepreneurial, and transformational leadership; and for sustained efforts to create vibrancy in the small business community

Linda Sterling
Linda Sterling leads the charge for Lewisburg's downtown to remain its heart and soul; and for Lewisburg to be the cultural and economic magnet of the region. In 1999, the year before she became the founding Executive Director of the Lewisburg Downtown Partnership (LDP), Lewisburg's Market Street had 13 vacant first-floor businesses. In 2000, the Borough of Lewisburg, Bucknell University, and the downtown business community launched an initiative to fill the vacancies, market downtown as a destination, and forge partnerships to encourage collaboration. Linda brings over 25 years of experience as a community and economic development professional and a B.A. degree from Penn State University to this role.

For the past decade, downtown has enjoyed a 2% vacancy rate; the award winning www.lewisburgpa.com has become the cornerstone of downtown marketing; and the spirit of collaboration that formed the LDP has broadened and strengthened, resulting in Lewisburg’s burgeoning vibrancy. Linda guides LDP staff, partners, and an extensive volunteer network consisting of board members, committee members, program coordinators, downtown ambassadors, and student interns from Bucknell University in a sustainable local program modeled on the four pillars of the National Main Street Center program: economic development, promotion, historic preservation & design and organization. In 2015, the LDP was once again recognized as one of 40 nationally accredited Main Street programs in Pennsylvania.

Small Business Person of the Year Award

In recognition of entrepreneurial success in planning, launching, and growing a new business in central Pennsylvania

Colleen Fritz
Colleen Fritz is the President and CEO Heritage Springs Memory Care, a specialized senior living community in Lewisburg, PA for Individuals with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. The mission of Colleen and her team is to provide seniors with the best in memory care, and to provide their families with the comfort that their loved ones live in a safe and beautiful community where they can relax and enjoy life. Her career includes over 20 years of caring for seniors as a nurse, a nursing supervisor, and as an executive director for a dementia care community. Colleen has a deep understanding of the needs of individuals suffering from memory loss and her team is the Susquehanna Valley’s leading experts in memory care. Colleen is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.

Innovation in New Product Development Award 

In recognition of innovation in new product development and exemplary collaboration with Bucknell University’s College of Engineering

Nick Gilson
Nick Gilson is the CEO of Gilson Boards, a new snowboarding company that designs their snowboard bases in three dimensions that gives riders an innovative, enhanced innovative feel on the mountain. Nick is a proponent of American artisan manufacturing, and his company builds their boards with locally grown trees here in central Pennsylvania. He leads a team of designers, craftsmen, and adventurers who merge the woodworking heritage of central Pennsylvania with the precision of modern technology to create snowboards that are of the highest quality in construction. Nick excels at design and marketing; and is a passionate champion for entrepreneurship. He travels extensively to bring his company's new products to snowboarders throughout the world; and to speak on youth entrepreneurship and manufacturing innovation. Prior to founding Gilson Boards, Nick was a science teacher, and he holds a B.A. degree from the Johns Hopkins University.

To see all photos from the event, click here.