In 2009, The Center for Retailing Solutions (CRS) was formed under the direction of Dr. James R. “Doc” Ogden along with other academics and representatives of a few retail organizations. The purpose of the CRS was to develop and foster a positive image of the retailing profession/industry and serve as a source of information and idea exchange. In 2013, after Doc retired from Kutztown University, the center went dormant. In 2017, the CRS was moved to Penn State and rebranded as the Council for Retail and Sales. The new CRS is housed under Lehigh Valley LaunchBox, which is an initiative under Penn State Lehigh Valley’s innovation hub. The CRS received a strategic planning grant from Penn State which will help the CRS to grow and will also position the CRS to serve as a template for the formation of other industry councils under the LaunchBox umbrella.
Lehigh Valley LaunchBox innovation hub, started in 2015, is a Penn State University and community-sponsored business accelerator program created as part of the Invent Penn State initiative. In addition to funding 21 innovation hubs across Pennsylvania, Invent Penn State created and connected entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training, funding for commercialization, and university-community collaborations to spur future economic development, job creation, and student career success.
The Lehigh Valley LaunchBox program awards micro grants to budding entrepreneurs. Partners of Lehigh Valley LaunchBox link micro grant recipients to alumni, business leaders, and academic partners to provide mentorship and to help launch ideas, and turn them into useful products.