Representatives with the newly formed Tamaqua Business Enterprise Center (BEC), a division of the Lehigh Carbon Community Center, Morgan Campus in Tamaqua, recently presented three $500 stipend check donations to local entrepreneur winners of their business plan competition.

The money was provided by a private donor and was presented for the purpose of promoting small business growth in Schuylkill and Carbon counties.

The BEC is currently converting the basement of the old South Ward Fire Company (now called the Scheller Student Center) into classrooms and business hatcheries and was created to assist area students and residents to achieve independence through entrepreneurship by providing resources and assistance at one location. Their mission is to create a portal for students to enhance their entrepreneurship spirit in a practical way by offering ongoing consulting, training, technical, research and access to business planning services.

The BEC's vision is to be the vehicle through which students will access mentors and networking tools such as SCORE, SBA.Gov as well as other enterprises. Those students going on to the entrepreneurship program will be assisted with making their business plans. Entrepreneurs and mentors will be also be available to coach students with the design of their business plans, as well as locating potential financing for their businesses.

The site is scheduled to open by the last week of September, with a reception dinner and a week long of events to promote the grand opening.

The three winners receiving the donations were Valerie Parks of Divine Redesign, Wescosville, a non-profit Thrift Store that provides fund for charities through resale of donations of home decor items, clothing and other items; Dorothy M. Young of Cookie's Corner, Mahanoy City, which provides retail and online sales of home furnishings, gifts and season items; and Matt Haslam of, Minersville, who offers lighting, sound and staging equipment as well musical entertainment services.

Young said, "Without BEC, I wouldn't have been able to start my growing business." Haslam stated, "BEC had a startup influence for me in my business and helped me make it grow."

For more information, contact Richard Warner, BEC Program Director, at (610) 799-1032 or Bruce Kemmerer, Entrepreneur Education Specialist, at (570) 225-5802 or via their website at The BEC's website states, "Our goal is to have a significant impact on Pennsylvania's local economy through enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses, the creation of jobs and taxable wealth."