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(Stock photo from Pixabay)

Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) has awarded a $17,250 grant to Bucknell University's Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

The grant is meant to be used for a rural entrepreneurship initiative for economic recovery after the closing of Wood-Mode Inc. in Kreamer.

Wood-Mode, Inc. was the largest employer in Snyder County, and its closure doubled its unemployment rate overnight with at least 900 employees losing their jobs in May.

The award is part of a $26.5 million funding program for DCED's Neighborhood Assistance Program, which promotes community participation and collaborations among nonprofits, businesses, and residents to support distressed or low-income areas.

Potential new businesses that may be created from this SBDC initiative include:

  • Mechanical or electrical contractors.
  • Crafters of artisan wood specialty products.
  • Refinishing and restoration expert services.
  • Designers and manufacturers of consumer goods
  • Diverse pursuits related to the rich agricultural heritage of the Central Pennsylvania region.

“The SBDC will provide educational programming and entrepreneurial skills training through a series of outreach initiatives, including educational workshops, outreach advising events, consulting services, specialized new research tools and diverse informational resources,” said Steve Stumbris, director of the Bucknell SBDC. “These services will be targeted to aid the community of employees displaced from the workforce as well as the owners of other firms in the region that suffered a negative impact from the Wood-Mode closure, including suppliers to the company, distributors of Wood-Mode products, and firms that provided goods and services to the displaced workforce.”

Stumbris says that even with the recent re-opening of the Wood-Mode facility, the need for this assistance remains critical as local workforce development estimates suggest that over 500 individuals are still displaced from employment or underemployed throughout the region.

“We are mindful of this as well of the layoffs occurring at ACF Industries in Milton, and this programming will be open to employees displaced there too, as well as to the nearby small business owners who will feel this impact,” he said.

The project will also be supported by $23,000 in contributions from Northumberland National Bank, Fulton Bank, and M&T Bank. As this project supports a Special Program Priority of DCED, each of these contributing partners will receive a Pennsylvania tax credit representing 75 percent of their contribution.