What is Shenango LaunchBox?
Our mission is to act as a "hub" for the region that connects local entrepreneurs to resources, programs, coaching, mentoring, funding, and facilities that they need in order to start and grow a viable business.

Even if you don't think our programs are right for you, please contact us as we're part of a wider entrepreneurial ecosystem and can help you to find what you need, no matter where you are in your journey.

No affiliation with Penn State is required to utilize our services. We offer free and low-cost services to startups and early-stage entrepreneurs, and we take no equity for our services.
We Offer:
  • Programs to support ideation and pre-acceleration
  • Events and networking opportunities
  • Speaker Series
  • Legal and intellectual property services
  • Pitch coaching for Sharon Economic Development Fund grants
  • Connections to other regional resources that support entrepreneurs

Shenango LaunchBox powered by the Greater Sharon Community – “Creativity Fuels Enterprise…”

In 2022, a group of community leaders in the City of Sharon had a unique opportunity to grant $14.7 Million in American Rescue Plan Act money to support COVID-19 response efforts, replace lost revenue, and support economic stabilization for households and businesses. Part of their vision was to invest a portion of the funds to fuel entrepreneurs and economic development for the future.

Through trusted relationships and collaboration, a path was identified where the city could place $2 Million into two distinct endowments of $1M each at the Shenango Valley Foundation, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Western PA and Eastern OH. Penn State University agreed to match those funds. One endowment exists to support Shenango LaunchBox and the other is intended to support economic development grants in the City of Sharon. Both endowments create a culture of innovation and drive economic development by leveraging the regional ecosystem and resources throughout the statewide LaunchBox network.

Thanks to collaborative community relationships and a desire to impact the greater good, generations of entrepreneurs will benefit from the combined creative investment and vision that brought this project together.


City of Sharon
  • Council – Molly Bundrant, Carl Aaron Sizer, William James, David Koerth, Taylor Galaska
  • Manager – Robert Fiscus
  • Planning Commission Chair- Clancy Atkinson
Penn State University
  • Dr. Jo Anne Carrick, Penn State Shenango Campus Director and Chief Academic Officer
  • Ken Hall, Assistant Vice President for University Development
  • Ty Cole, Penn State Shenango Development Director
Shenango Valley Foundation, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Western PA & Eastern OH
  • James A. O’Brien, President
  • Karen Winner Sed, Vice-President
  • Kyle English, Executive Director
  • Amy C. Atkinson, Director of Planned Giving
  • Michael P. Walton, Board Chairperson
  • Tom Roberts, Founding Executive Director

Meet the LaunchBox Team
Thomas Rhys Roberts

Project Coodinator

Tom’s career started out in a small, rapidly growing manufacturing company before departing 12 years later as VP of Sales. He transitioned into community-based and nonprofit work looking to make an impact on education and economic development. In 2014 he was named the founding Executive Director for Hope Center for Arts and Technology, Inc. (HopeCAT) in Sharon, PA, departing in June 2023. He currently works part time with Shenango LaunchBox, serves on the board of directors governing PA’s Private Licensed Schools, is Vice Chair of the Sharon Community Development Corporation, and a board member for ACTS Performing Arts Center. He recently founded the consulting firm Rhys and Associates LLC and is excited to help foster entrepreneurship in the greater regional ecosystem. He is a proud Penn State Alum, and you’ll find him every fall performing as a Drum Major with the Alumni Blue Band at Beaver Stadium. He resides in Hermitage with his wife Ryen.

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