Lehigh University offers many courses in the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurialism, Creativity and Innovation that give students an opportunity to learn from other entrepreneurs in business and in society. One course offered in the spring is ENT 198: Art Entrepreneurship Community. In this course, students explore the dynamic relationship between art(ist), producer (public, private, single & multiple) and audience. A significant part of their learning is through applying their own talents to the annual Spring on Fourth festival. Through this practicum, students have seen the impact of their work in terms of relationship building between the South Bethlehem business community and the campus.
They have also been given a great opportunity to see how a festival impacts local businesses. These local businesses are the backbone of the local economy; and students are learning all of their owners by name - and not by name tag. They have become very familiar with the assets of the community around their campus - and are coming to understand the value and shared responsibility of supporting a local economy through events and festivals that raise the quality of life for all citizens who live and work in the same zip code.
Cleo's Silversmith Studio & Gallery
I always thought about venturing into the Southside of Bethlehem, but never actually went through with the plan because I had the misconception that it was too far off campus. However, when I had to go for a class assignment for First Fridays, I was shocked to see the amazing things I was missing out on all these years. Visiting various stores located on Third Street, I was able to talk with owners of stores and to get to know people in my community. One person I talked with was Cleo from Cleo’s Silversmith Studio & Gallery. It was interesting to hear about how her business started up from the roots of her father, who was a silversmith. Her store offers a wide range of jewelry, pottery, art, and more. All the items available in the store are designed by American craftsmen. In addition, Cleo’s is also a great avenue for artists in the Lehigh Valley to come and showcase their work.
During my chat with Cleo, I was surprised at how open she was to tell me about her business and what it has been like being a female entrepreneur in the Lehigh Valley. I have always thought that entrepreneurship would be more male dominated, so I was shocked to hear that the tradeshows she had been attending had mostly female participates. As a female business student, it was both interesting and encouraging to hear that females were entering into all facets of the business world and Cleo was a testament to it. From my adventure into South Bethlehem, my eyes were opened to the hidden gems available so close to me (I also found a new place to purchase some unique gifts). I almost missed out on truly appreciating what South Bethlehem has to offer to the entire community, even to college students. So I encourage you to step into your community and explore South Bethlehem!
Diana Lee, Lehigh University, class of 2014