By Deedee Sun October 7, 2014 at 12:14 A.M. EDT.
The population of the city of Erie has slowly declined over the past decade. The county's population has stayed stagnant. Unemployment rate in Erie sits at 7 percent, higher than the state average.
But local efforts like Gannon University's "Erie Technology Incubator" works to keep talent in the region and fight the "brain drain" trend.
ETI is just one of many initiatives to attract new companies and retain talent in Erie.
"We have to keep our brightest entrepreneurs in this region. So many of them realize their opportunities across the country and even across the world. If we can keep them here, we get the benefit of the economic growth," said Jeff Parnell, executive director of Gannon's Erie Technology Incubator.
The incubator provides services like logistics, management, and marketing to entrepreneurs in the Northwest Pennsylvania region.
"Taking an idea and making it a reality are two very different things. Where ETI helps, is making that reality possible. Helping us fill the gaps and starting from an idea to making it into a successful company," said Stephen Kovacs, pulmonologist and co-founder of medicalopinionscenter.com.
The website provides patients a second opinion from doctors - offering a second medical assessment of a patient's case at a lower cost than seeing a second physician in person.
The incubation, or help period from ETI, is for five years. The goal is to help create a successful business, that can realize the benefits of picking Erie as their home base.
Kovacs says one of those benefits, is that Erie is a smaller city.
"That you're not just one in a million crowd anymore. If you have the talent and ambition, there are people here who can help you and your company take hold," Kovacs said.
Other start ups not associated with Gannon's incubator, agree that there are very unique advantages to locating a company in Erie.
David Hunter is the founder of Epic Web Studios, a web design company that services clients all across the United States and in Canada.
"Definitely the low cost of living here. As a result of that, you can really charge less for your services. Since we're a tech company, we can compete on a global scale," Hunter said. "We're able to charge Erie, PA pricing, when they're used to Los Angeles pricing. So we can be very effective from that," he said.
Both startups also mentioned the high concentration of universities in NW PA, producing a lucrative pool from which to seek talented and driven employees.
Parnell believes the brain drain fight is making a difference.
"They're coming in, sharing their passion for entrepreneurship, and why it can be done right here in NW PA," Parnell said.
This article was originally found on WICU/WSEE & aired October 6th, 2014.
Deedee Sun can be reached here: www.DeedeeSun.com
Epic Web Studios can be contacted any time at 814-746-6987 and on their website: www.EpicWebStudios.com/contact