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Business center debuts at Elizabethtown library

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Aimee Nelson, left, Ashlynn Trimmer, center and Meghan Phillips talk in Elizabethtown Public Library's new business center. All three are library employees.
Aimee Nelson, left, Ashlynn Trimmer, center and Meghan Phillips talk in Elizabethtown Public Library's new business center. All three are library employees. - (Photo / )

The Elizabethtown Public Library is open for business.

The nonprofit this month opened a business center as part of a broader effort to beef up resources for small companies in and around Elizabethtown.

The effort is funded by a three-year, $350,000 grant, called Destination E-Town, provided by the Lancaster County Community Foundation’s BB&T Economic Growth Fund. The grant is going to a partnership made up of the library, Elizabethtown Area Chamber of Commerce and Elizabethtown College, as well as the college’s Social Enterprise Institute and High Center for Family Business.

“We’re all working together to create a stronger local community,” said Deb Drury, executive director of the library, which is part of the Library System of Lancaster County.

The business center opened in late January on the second floor of the library, at 10 S. Market St.

The space, which formerly housed a conference room, now features work stations that can be converted to tables for informal meetings, a rolling white board, a state-of-the-art copier, a TV that can be used for presentations and a flip board. Wi-Fi is also available throughout the library.

In addition, Drury said, the center houses a “diverse collection” of materials about starting and operating a business, as well as periodicals such as Success Magazine. Office supplies are also available for use.

“Part of what we’re doing this year is evaluating what tools may be needed in the center,” Drury said, “We encourage feedback from people who use the area.”

Drury said the library has been interested in creating a business-focused space for several years.

“We took the first step to address the needs of the business community in 2008 when we created Elizabethtown Coffee Co., which offers a place for the business community to meet,” she said.

Located within the library, Elizabethtown Coffee Co. is a full-service coffee shop featuring a variety of coffees, teas and baked goods as well as seating. Drury said profits from the coffee shop help fund library operations.

“Like the coffee company, our new business center provides an additional resource to businesses in our community,” she said.

Funding for the business center came from the Destination E-Town grant, which comes out of a $10 million fund established by BB&T after it bought Susquehanna Bancshares. The fund has given out more than $6.1 million to 11 Lancaster-based, nonprofits with programs focused on creating sustainable and thriving jobs.

The Elizabethtown chamber will use its portion of the Destination E-Town grant to fund loans of up to $3,000 to businesses based in Elizabethtown or Lancaster County.

“This is an excellent opportunity for our members who are eligible to apply for revolving loan funds; engage with the Elizabethtown College Social Enterprise Institute and High Family Business Center in facilitated peer groups and best practices programming; and create business development projects and studies that engage college students and faculty,” the chamber wrote on its website.

Founded in 2015, Elizabethtown College’s Social Enterprise Institute aims to create and nurture companies and organizations with a social mission, often known as benefit companies. It will use its portion of the grant to provide counseling and seed money to startups, said James Frederick II, a senior fellow at the institute.

“The grant funding is great,” he added. “It will help us infuse dollars into the community as a whole,” he said.

The High Center counsels family-owned businesses.

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