Studio 1795 offers co-working space in downtown Bellefonte

PHOTO PROVIDED Studio 1795 hosted its first Community Coffee Chat on Wednesday. Studio 1795 is a new co-working space located in downtown Bellefonte.

BELLEFONTE — There’s a new co-working space in downtown Bellefonte.

Studio 1795, owned by Ellen Matis and her husband, Sean Yoder, recently opened its doors at 127 S. Allegheny St. By day, the location is a co-working space. On evenings and weekends, Matis hopes that it will become a community and events rental space.

At Tuesday’s Centre County Board of Commissioners’ meeting, Matis talked at length about the space, which will be the new home to Bellefonte’s SpringBoard.

“Studio 1795 has partnered with both Bellefonte SpringBoard and Downtown Bellefonte, Inc., to make this space where community connects, collaborates and celebrates,” Matis said. “SpringBoard is a part of larger economic development initiative for Downtown Bellefonte, Inc.”

According to Matis, SpringBoard will be offering low or no-cost workshops, consulting and more in an effort to help Bellefonte’s growing entrepreneurial community thrive. These include a free “Ask a Lawyer” event each month, financial workshops, open office hours with the Small Business Development Center and more.

PHOTO PROVIDED Ellen Matis recently opened Studio 1795 in downtown Bellefonte. It is a co-working space and will be the headquarters for Downtown Bellefonte, Inc.

Matis talked about the SpringBoard Startup Challenge, which recently crowned its 2019 winner.

“One of the biggest problems business owners have is just getting their name out there,” said Matis. “So we started the SpringBoard Startup Challenge, which is mostly a marketing competition so that people can receive some funds to help them with their business a little bit.”

There were six entries, Matis said. This year’s winner is Belle Mercantile. Owners Andrea Skirpan and Brian Bonner of Bellefonte plan on renovating the former Mattress World location next to Dollar General along South Spring Street. According to their application, Skirpan and Bonner hope to “create a retail environment hosting a dynamic and curated collection of makers, artists and merchants.”

“It was a hard judging process this year,” Matis said. “We really felt (their idea) tied into the mission of SpringBoard … to bring economic development to Bellefonte’s downtown.”

Belle Mercantile is expected to open in the spring, Matis said.

PHOTO PROVIDED Studio 1795 is the new location for Bellefonte’s SpringBoard. It is located at 127 S. Allegheny St. in downtown Bellefonte.

On their application, Skirpan and Bonner said: “We want to attract up-and-coming business owners and online sellers to the tough, but glorious, world of the retail marketplace. We are confident that it will be a marketplace where customers are excited to come in, get a taste of small-town hospitality and enjoy shopping small in downtown Bellefonte.”

Last year, there were three winners for the SpringBoard StartUp Challenge. The first-place winner was AbleRacers, which works to adapt toy cars and other toys so they are accessible to all children. There were two second-place winners: Hoop Stars, a business that looks to encourage and teach basketball skills to young students; and Dana M. Ray Consulting, a communications consulting business.

“This is great news. I know a couple of our prior winners have been doing very well,” said commissioner Mark Higgins. “Hoop Stars, I see them on Facebook all the time and I think they’ve tripled their number of classes the past few years. Able Racers … I know they’ve been very busy, too.”

Unlike last year, there was just one winner this year, Matis said.

“We have a panel of judges that work on this competition and we felt like (the applicants) didn’t provide the information that we were looking for or didn’t tie into our overall mission. Some of them were out of the county or not on the right track yet. We felt like we could make a bigger impact with just the one prize this year,” Matis said.

Higgins was pleased that Belle Mercantile will fill an empty storefront in downtown Bellefonte.

“Another addition to retail in downtown Bellefonte. It’s just exciting to see the energy in Bellefonte,” Higgins said. “Bellefonte has really become the place to be if you’re a young professional.”

Studio 1795 is the home of Downtown Bellefonte, Inc., which recently hired its first full-time employee, Bellefonte resident and borough council member, Gina Thompson.

For more information about Studio 1795 or Bellefonte SpringBoard, visit www.studio1795.com.