Three Hatboro groups – business, residents and charities – are on a unified mission.
Together, the 45 members selected to fill the trio of focus groups are analyzing, along with officials from Arcadia University, how a continuing education program that would be tailored to the needs of members could be established in Hatboro, officials said.
Stephen Barth, Hatboro Main Street Manager, said having better cultural and educational offerings such as this is one of many ways to help revitalize the town.
“How do you make a community really vibrant? It’s not just new shops,” Barth said.
President and CEO Joe Tryon, who is also president of the Greater Hatboro Chamber of Commerce, said he got the idea of having a “satellite school” in Hatboro and reached out to Arcadia University representatives to pursue that possibility.
“They were very enthusiastic about it,” Tryon said. “It’s great for Arcadia and it’s great for Hatboro.”
To that end, Tryon said three different 15-member focus groups representative of residents, the business community and charitable organization like the Hatboro Rotary Club, have been put in place to formalize how best to implement his idea.
Tryon said he’s hoping the educational offerings could be available by September. Officials are considering several borough locations, including the , space at the Chamber office, as well as a room in the , he said.
“The Chamber’s job is to bring more people into town to see the businesses,” Tryon said. “We’re trying to give the town more exposure to new people.”
Lorraine Brandenburger, Arcadia University’s director of business initiatives for the school of continuing studies, did not offer a timeline as to when the educational offerings could be put in place. Brandenburger said the college’s relationship with the Chamber is aimed at serving “non-traditional” students.
“The School of Continuing Studies sees this relationship with the (Greater Hatboro Chamber of Commerce) as more of a regionally specific and customized effort,” Brandenburger said, noting that the term “satellite campus” is “probably a misnomer.”
Brandenburger said Arcadia officials are waiting to see the outcome of the focus groups before determining the type of programs offered, but said, the college’s strength in bachelor’s level programs in business administration and liberal studies “is the curriculum base we plan on operating from in a springboard sort of way.” Both credit and non-credit course options are being considered, she said.
For the time being, Brandenburger said Arcadia’s school of continuing studies, which is based in King of Prussia, is “strictly focusing” on the initial collaboration, via focus groups, with the Chamber.
“Success in this first phase can definitely lead to future discussions of growth in the future,” Brandenburger said. “But it's important to make sure the first phase is beneficial to the Hatboro business and residential community--that we understand and embrace their needs and deliver upon them. Our focus groups are the first critical step in developing programs that are valuable and sustainable in Hatboro.”
Hatboro officials already see various benefits. Barth said he envisions Arcadia’s students pairing with Hatboro business owners for internship programs. For example, a finance student would be a perfect fit at Hatboro Federal Savings, he said.
“We can be this great feeder ground,” Barth said.
Other ideas include online college programs made available to students, as well as “targeted seminars and symposiums.”
In terms of additional benefits to the business community, Tryon said he is looking to boost Chamber membership through educational incentives. Tryon said officials hope to offer tuition discounts to Greater Hatboro Chamber of Commerce members – even resident members – who opt to register for courses.
“It would be to their advantage to be a member of the Chamber,” Tryon said.
To share your views with one of Hatboro’s focus groups, call Joe Tryon at 215-675-4000.