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York College launches McNees Accelerator to help entrepreneurs rev up their startups

January 05, 2021
faculty and staff members of the JD Brown Center

Despite the pandemic, Jeff Vermeulen, Assistant Vice President for External Relations and Director of the J.D. Brown Center, believes there’s no shortage of great business ideas stirring in the York community. He hopes the McNees Accelerator at YCP, hosted by the J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship, will help a few of those ideas come to life.

“We have an opportunity to offer the resources of York College and help those entrepreneurs bring something impactful to York,” says Vermeulen. “We’re excited to see all that emerges from this.”

The McNees Accelerator, sponsored by the Law Firm of McNees Wallace and Nurick LLC, is an 8-week, virtual mentorship program launching in February 2021. It offers budding student and local entrepreneurs an opportunity to connect with mentors from York College’s expert faculty, as well as from around the entrepreneurial community, while they refine their business ideas. The series closes with a $5,000 pitch competition.

From market research to legal considerations and funding sources, teams will reach predetermined milestones during the McNees Accelerator. By the end of the program, participants should have a viable strategy for launching their venture. “This isn’t an academic program,” Vermeulen says. “It’s an opportunity for students and community members with serious business ideas to bring them to fruition.”

Driving community success

Anne Zerbe, an attorney with the McNees Labor & Employment Practice Group, will serve as one of the program’s mentors and the law firm will present on legal considerations. McNees also has stepped up as a sponsor of the event.

“The Accelerator dovetails nicely with our commitment and dedication to giving back to the communities in which we work and live,” Zerbe says. “It is such a great reward to be able to be part of someone’s success, to watch them grow and achieve great things, and help them realize their dreams.”

Dr. Jay Azriel, Associate Professor and Chair of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the College, will also be a mentor in the McNees Accelerator.

“York College has a responsibility to help make the greater York area a better place,” he says. “If we can play a role in helping businesses start up, then that is wonderful.”

Supporting entrepreneurs

The results of York College’s investment in local businesses can already be seen in thriving start-ups that are a result of a former York Business Academy and a high school program called Entrepreneurship York, as well as York College graduates who have launched their own ventures.

Those small businesses have a big impact in York, says Kevin Schreiber ‘02, CEO of the York County Economic Alliance. They provide job opportunities and tax revenue while also bringing innovation that drives competitiveness, develops creative employees, and enhances community wealth.

“Communities that support their entrepreneurs and have a readily available support system have a tendency to boast more diverse, resilient economies,” he says. “Those are characteristics you most certainly look for coming out of a year like 2020.”


What: The McNees Accelerator at York College

When: Deadline to register is January 31, 2021. Event kicks off on February 10, 2021.

Who can apply: York College students and community members based in and around the York area who plan to launch their business in York County.

For more information: Visit the Event Page. Contact Oscar Winters, Associate Director of the J.D. Brown Center at York College, owinters@ycp.edu.