Advocating and nurturing free enterprise as the foundation of freedom through discovery and motivation of entrepreneurial spirit and capacity.
Founded in 1993, the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship is dedicated to teaching the principles of free enterprise and entrepreneurship. As an independent Center, affiliated with the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership at Wilkes University, the Center serves the entire University and region of northeast Pennsylvania.
The Center has a rich history of activities for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students including special lectures and seminars, sponsorship of the University's Enactus team (formerly SIFE), and support for student business owners to stress the real world application of classroom material.
In July 2014, the Kirby Board of Managers appointed a new director, Rodney S. Ridley Sr., Ph.D., with a vision to move the Kirby Center forward, maintaining the Center's founding goals while continuing and expanding the work of his predecessors. Ridley envisions the Center having the same relative economic impact on the greater Wilkes-Barre area as larger institutions have on their host cities. His vision focuses on three main areas: education, business development, and community resource.
The Center has since created a Technology Transfer Office, the Wilkes Enterprise Center (business incubator) and an Office of Industry & Community Outreach to marry the assets of Wilkes University with needs in the area business community. The Allan P. Kirby Center maintains a close working relationship with the other Wilkes Centers of Excellence which include the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Family Business Alliance (FBA), and the Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development.
The Kirby Center encourages and enables students, faculty, staff, and community members to:
- Launch and run the businesses of the future;
- Understand the nature of free enterprise, value creation, and entrepreneurship through curricular and experience-based activities;
- Develop, implement, and support programs that will enhance the entrepreneurial climate of Wilkes University and northeast Pennsylvania including specific efforts to support the redevelopment of downtown Wilkes-Barre;
- Foster dialogue on the imperative of pursuing the constitutional goals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness through the free enterprise system and entrepreneurship.
"Our goal is simple: to have the same relative impact on our community as the great research universities of the country have on their communities. The 'new' Kirby Center, under the direction of Dr. Rodney Ridley, will enable us to accomplish that goal." - Wilkes University President, Dr. Patrick Leahy