For Misericordia senior communications major Erin Dougherty, it all started with an email about a contest. It ended in a ribbon-cutting event in downtown Wilkes-Barre this past April 20, attended by area business and political leaders, including Senator John Yudichak and Representative Eddie Day Pashinski.
Misericordia University communications major Erin Dougherty (third from right) attended the launch and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new technology center in downtown Wilkes-Barre on April 20. In the center are Senator John Yudichak (holding scissors) and Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (left of scissors).
The contest was entitled “Name the Tech Workshop” and it was sponsored by the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business & Industry. The Chamber constructed a 5,000 square-foot technology workshop and multimedia center on the lower level of the Innovation Center building in downtown Wilkes-Barre—in which the ribbon-cutting was held. They launched the contest in early March of this year, with a fast deadline of March 31. Finalists were teamed up with the design firm Coal Creative to come up with a logo for their respective names.
As Ms. Dougherty is a communications student with two graphic design classes already completed, she came to Coal Creative with some design concepts of her own. “They loved that I had some ideas already,” she said. “They even offered me an internship!”
“Inspiration Alley” was the name Ms. Dougherty coined. While the final name selected for the workshop was the Wilkes-Barre THINK Center, the judges liked the other finalists’ answers so much, they decided to utilize them for conference rooms and other areas of the center. Inspiration Alley lives on!
Erin Dougherty (right) stands in front of a projection of the name she came up with for the “Name the Tech Center” contest. Inspiration Alley is now the name of the co-working space within the center.
While the contest was “easy to enter,” Ms. Dougherty said, attesting to the well-designed process, she added that she pondered her naming concept for three full weeks.
Joseph Boylan, the Chamber’s Vice President of Economic Development, spoke about how the workshop is part of the Connect Initiative to help local business start, grow and thrive. In addition to entrepreneurs, the center welcomes students, faculty and staff from colleges in Luzerne County.
“You have an idea;” Mr. Boylan explained to the audience, flanked by two large monitors illustrating his points. “You come here. We put you through the system. We groom you, we get you ready; we get you through the Connect system to get you the services you need, to open a business.”
Wilkes-Barre Chamber’s Vice President of Economic Development Joseph Boylan presents at the April 20 technology center launch event.
Mr. Boylan was speaking in the 50-seat Lecture and Media Hall within the center, which has an open floor plan. The center also offers three conference rooms for business innovators to use for private meetings, investment presentations, and small training sessions.
Additionally, it hosts a co-working space, that features “plug and play” tables where students and young entrepreneurs can bring their laptops and work on their own or collaborate on projects. This co-working space is named—drum roll, please—Inspiration Alley.
“I talked to 50 different people and it was almost a dead heat, every time,” said Mr. Boylan of the process of choosing the grand prize-winning name for the tech workshop. Students from King’s College, Luzerne County Community College, Misericordia University, Penn State Wilkes-Barre, and Wilkes University had been invited to enter the contest.
Wilkes-Barre Chamber’s Vice President of Economic Development Joseph Boylan, left, with Misericordia University communications major Erin Dougherty, at the April 20 technology center launch event.
“We thought, how can we incorporate these, because we loved what you guys did?” Mr. Boylan said to the finalists. And the answer was to name the co-working space and the conference rooms accordingly. In addition to the co-working space Inspiration Alley, one conference room was named the Beehive, and another, DiamondMind.
Ms. Dougherty described the whole experience as unique and inspiring. “I felt really accomplished being a finalist in the competition,” she said. “I felt like my hard work was starting to pay off.”
About the author: Rachel Urbanowicz, MA, is an assistant professor of Communications at Misericordia University.
More information on the Wilkes-Barre Connect initiative and the THINK center at blog.wilkes-barre.org/chamber-launches-connect