Epicenter brief: March 2017

What is the Epicenter Project?

The Building Bridges to Careers Epicenter is a comprehensive entrepreneurial and education center. It is a "brick and mortar" center for real world work experiences that provides space and time for strategic collaboration. Small businesses housed in the Epicenter are supported in an incubator-style environment while they grow. High school and college students collaboratively participate in programming alongside the entrepreneurs-in-residence to increase soft skills and see what it is really like to start and run your own business. Student programming includes  job shadowing, internships, career mentoring, and problem-based learning. Future expansion of the Epicenter will include a community makerspace.  


Who has participated in the creation of the Epicenter?

Building Bridges to Careers (BB2C) developed the basic concept of the Epicenter project as a means to provide innovative career experiences for high school students. In order to guide the creation of the Epicenter, a steering committee was created in 2016 with the following participants:

Nick Arnold (Pickering Associates), DeeAnn Gehlauf (Memorial Health System), Bret Allphin (Buckeye Hills), Will Hampton (Marietta City Schools), Michele Tipton (SEO Port Authority), Jen Simon (LIGHTS/Innovation Center of Ohio University), Robin Stewart (Marietta College), Tonya Davis (BB2C), Brenda Kornmiller (WSCC), Morgan Brown (MACC), Mark Weihl (Hall Financial), Pamela Lankford (WSCC), and Tasha Werry (MCS/BB2C).

The City of Marietta agreed to lease space in the Armory on Front Street at an affordable cost to the BB2C organization. Donations of equipment and furniture (Washington County Public Library), and consulting (Epiphany) have been accepted. Memorial funds donated in the name of Allen Brokaw were dedicated to the Epicenter. Operational funds have been provided by Washington State Community College, the Peoples Bank Foundation, and Ohio University's Voinovich School.


What impact has been made?

Three entrepreneurs-in-residence are currently located in the Epicenter. The first high school Epicenter Intern has been working to support the entrepreneurs-in-residence. Marietta High School’s Entrepreneurship class visits the Epicenter regularly and is completing market research for participating businesses. The Epicenter Director is working with Washington State Community College to create internship opportunities for college students with the entrepreneurs-in-residence and other local businesses. The first intentional collaboration event was held on February 23, and focused on engineering careers. Discover Engineering Day, sponsored by Burgess and Niple, brought 25 students from three counties to the Epicenter to complete activities and network with several local engineers. Currently, the Entrepreneurship students are preparing for the upcoming Junior PioPitch event, which will be held at Marietta College on April 27, from 4-5 PM. Each student created a business plan, which they will pitch to an audience in order to receive feedback. The students have received support with their pitches from the entrepreneurs-in-residence and the business development network of the Epicenter. 

What is needed?

Businesses can be members of the Epicenter at three different levels, each with their own pricing structure: 1) entrepreneurs-in-residence, 2) affiliate members, and 3) a la carte members. Overhead expenses for the Epicenter are covered through participating business revenue and current partners. Staffing is needed to provide business consulting services to member businesses as well as to develop programming for businesses and students. And, most importantly, staff is needed grow business linkages so as many youth as possible have opportunities for experiential learning to better prepare them for the world of work. Our future plans include expanding to a larger location in order to increase capacity for business incubation, add co-working space and makerspace learning labs. If you are interested in supporting the Epicenter financially, visit the BB2C funding information page: http://buildingbridgestocareers.org/funding-support/