Social entrepreneurship introduced at MLK breakfast

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The capacity crowd of 300 attendees obtained ideas from a panel discussion on how their businesses can practice social entrepreneurship, no matter how large or small. Panelists represented Keystone Human Services an organization that provides community-based services for children, young people, adults and families in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut, as well as parts of Russia and Moldova. The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, an organization that works to provide affordable homeownership and rental apartment options for senior adults, low- and moderate-income families, and people with special housing needs. The Strand Capital Performing Arts Center based in York encompassing five buildings and considered a premier venue for dynamic live entertainment, presenting an array of Broadway productions, comedy performances, live music and family shows. Also participating in the discussion was the Mayor of Harrisburg Eric Papenfuse who also owns Midtown Scholar Bookstore-Café. Each representative discussed how the organizations for which they work embrace the framework of social entrepreneurship as a means to address social issues, impacting the lives of their employees and the communities in which they conduct business from a local, regional, national and international perspective demonstrating that social entrepreneurship is a sound business practice based on mission, core values and ethical practices.

THE ORGANIZOR—Vera Cornish of Cornish and Associates readies herself to speak during the Access and Opportunity Career Fair.

THE ORGANIZER—Vera Cornish of Cornish and Associates readies herself to speak during the Access and Opportunity Career Fair.

Robyn S. Joppy, vice president, Corporate Compliance for Keystone Human Services when addressing social entrepreneurship in her line of work related that one should have consistent dialogue with employees and co-workers and look at new and creative ways of framing problems and include talent from all disciplines.

“In business you can’t want to be good you have to do well and give results,” she said. She emphasized that ethics is a core value of social entrepreneurship. “Look at your motives. Just because it is legal does not mean it is ethical.”

“In my type of business the spirit of entrepreneurship means showing up,” pointed out Clay Lambert, Business Development Officer for PHFA. “Networking with people with like-minded thinking and taking advantage of opportunities is important.”

He pointed out that knowing what you bring to the table, knowing what you need and stepping up getting into the ball game as a must.

Involved in the arts most of his career, Ken Wesler, president and CEO of the Strand Capital Performing Arts Center, said his philosophy is; if it’s not for profit then what are you in business for? He stands firm on his organizations three-legged operational strategy of respecting self, adhering to deadlines and being disciplined. And he also believes that being a visionary is seeing something that is not there.

In office less than a month, Papenfuse said we are all entrepreneurs in one way or the other. “It is important to dream big, to take risks and to strive for greatness.” As an entrepreneur and as mayor he said he realizes the importance of partnerships and working together as a team. “We have to value partnerships, be genuine and focus on accountability.”

More than 2,000 people participated in the Access and Opportunity Career Fair during the second half of the day. Sponsored by the Urban Connection and the PA Media Group, the event was designed with input from the region’s corporations that have diversity and inclusion as a strategic initiative. The career fair offered individuals access to companies that had both entry level and professional positions available. Some companies included Aerotek, Nationwide Insurance, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Rite Aid and Taco Bell.

“On the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we are joining together to bring the message of access and opportunity to a larger audience than ever before through this career fair,” said Cornish. “The goal is to foster an atmosphere of inclusion that leads to increased employment.”

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