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New midtown mural aimed at Harrisburg's youth debuts

Tomorrow's Hope, a new midtown mural to be unveiled this week, offers inspiration to Harrisburg's next generation.

BARAK, a community arts group, commissioned Megan Davis, a co-founder of  Sprocket Mural Works, to "speak a message of empowerment to youth as the future leaders of our city."

Davis designed the 16-by-16-foot mural at Third Street Studio and painted it with help from Philadelphia artist Jacintha Clark and about 25 neighborhood children ages eight to 18. The mural faces the UMC Neighborhood Center and the children depicted in the mural have all taken part in the Center's programs.

"Public art should reflect the community it adorns, and this mural is meant to speak specifically to the children of Harrisburg," says Davis. "It's a dynamic place to grow up in, and this message is meant to empower our young ones toward a brighter future."

Davis co-founded Sprocket with Jeff Copus and Liz Laribee. The citywide mural project works with neighborhoods, artists, organizations and government agencies to create vibrant community murals across the city, and to tell the stories of its rich mural history. The mission is to increase community pride and civic engagement in Harrisburg through united creative action.

Davis says the new mural is the first in a series of collaborations.

"Our goal is to act as a natural hub and gathering place for the people and elements needed to carry out these projects," she explains. "We are identifying walls, meeting artists, gathering supplies and cultivating partnerships in the community." 

Tomorrow’s Hope, located at 1725 N. Third Street will be unveiled at 4 p.m. Sunday, September 14. A panel discussion about the mural is set for 2 p.m. at the Midtown Scholar (1302 N. Third Street). 

Source: Megan Davis, Sprocket Mural Works
Writer: Elise Vider
 

The arts 'Create Influence' at new downtown Lancaster sculpture

A new 60-foot sculpture in downtown Lancaster proclaims that the arts "Create Influence." The installation, commissioned by the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design for its new Art Garden, was designed by New York-based Anderson Newton Design and will be dedicated on September 2.

The school acquired the corner property adjacent to its main building on North Prince Street in 2012 and embarked on a community engagement process to shape its design. Since then, the college has planted a grove of Yoshino cherry trees, installed seating and tables, and connected utilities to the green space, which has been used for convocation events and class activities.

The concept for the installation emerged when Gail Anderson, a nationally-acclaimed designer and recipient of the prestigious AIGA Medal, visited PCA&D and conducted a listening tour with staff, faculty and students. In conversation with school President Mary Colleen Heil, Anderson observed, "What you really do here is create influence." And the concept was born. 

Working with partner Joe Newton, Anderson developed an inventive piece that combines typography and lenticular imagery. The message of the sculpture appears differently, depending on the position of the viewer.  

"PCA&D has a long history of leading and supporting innovative and entrepreneurial arts-based initiatives," says PCA&D spokesperson Mary Stadden. "Create Influence clearly reflects PCA&D's mission and vision, and is the newest addition to the college's outdoor art collection, which includes the nightly show of lights on PCA&D's facade and the Poetry Paths mural in its exterior portico."

Create Influence was installed in July by Benchmark Construction of Ephrata Township and will be formally dedicated at a free public event, 1 p.m. Wednesday, September 2.

This fall, PCA&D is also unveiling Steinman Lofts on West King Street, nine new student apartments for 26 incoming freshman that feature adaptive, transformative and creative re-use of empty, upper-floor spaces above existing businesses downtown. 

Source: Mary Stadden, PCA&D
Writer: Elise Vider

Construction begins at Philadelphia's Comcast Innovation and Technology Center

Passersby at the 1800 block of Arch Street in Center City Philadelphia can now watch the tallest U.S. building outside of New York and Chicago emerge from the ground -- construction is underway at the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center.
 
Bala Cynwd-based builder L.F. Driscoll is constructing the $1.2 billion, 59-story tower, a joint venture between media giant Comcast and Malvern’s Liberty Property Trust. It is the largest private development project in the history of Pennsylvania.
 
The new building is conceived as an urban, vertical response to the suburban-style, spread-out campuses of other media companies such as Google and Amazon. Comcast says the tower will be "a dedicated home for the company’s growing workforce of technologists, engineers and software architects."
 
The structure, designed by architect Lord Norman Foster, will include over 1.3 million square feet of office space, a 222-room Four Seasons Hotel, studios for two television stations, restaurants, space for local technology startups and direct links to public transit. 
 
In announcing the start of construction earlier this month, Liberty said that Comcast will occupy about 74 percent of the building’s office space, and that completion is expected in the first quarter of 2018.
 
Source: Liberty Property Trust and Comcast Corporation
Writer: Elise Vider

BFTP/NEP announces latest funding round

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania's (BFTP/NEP) has pledged $620,000 in support of regional economic development. The funds will go towards developing and growing early-stage tech companies, helping manufacturers apply new technology and achieve industry leadership, and fostering a favorable business environment for high-growth companies.

Ben Franklin has also announced the following investments, provided to companies in the form of loans.

CEWA Technologies, Wyomissing
Ben Franklin Investment: $350,000
This company hopes to complete design, construction and prototype testing of a new kind of point-concentrated solar power dish. Their product should deliver power for industrial and institutional applications at a lower cost due to its innovative shape and build.

Good Vittles, Hamburg
Ben Franklin Investment: $56,000
This company aims to complete the development and implementation of its exclusive technology to support its e-commerce marketplace for specialty foods. Good Vittles' two e-commerce portals serve as direct distribution channels, connecting food suppliers with professional chefs and individual consumers. Suppliers will use the company's proprietary packing process to maintain freshness while employing cost-effective shipping methods.

U.S. Specialty Formulations, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
U.S. Specialty Formulations will complete the set-up, staffing and cGMP-approval process to produce sterile injectable pharmaceuticals for the medical community. Millions of Americans require specialized and custom-compounded drugs, and the current infrastructure is insufficient. As an FDA-registered outsourced manufacturer, USF will employ advanced quality and manufacturing controls to comply with new, more stringent federal quality standards.

Ben Franklin is also investing in the following established manufacturers, providing 1:1 matching funding for work with a college or university partner.

Bosch Rexroth Corporation, Bethlehem
University Partner: Lehigh University's Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

This Lehigh Valley manufacturer of motion-control equipment aims to develop and implement a process to automate data collection, driving process improvements and enabling predictive maintenance for machining centers throughout the company.

Fidelity Technologies Corporation, Reading
College Partner: Northampton Community College's Emerging Technology Applications Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

Fidelity will develop superior tactical electric power generator technology, primarily for the U.S. Department of Defense. These new generators meet a need for compact, reliable, fuel-efficient and fuel-flexible generators in the field.

Hydro Recovery LP, Blossburg
University Partner: The Pennsylvania State University
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

The company will further develop and optimize the economic extraction of useful materials from residual "frac" water used in natural gas wells. Hydro Recovery's process converts the used water into a Hydraulic Stimulation Fluid (HSF™) that can then be reused. This process eliminates the need to transport wastewater over long distances, will save millions of gallons of freshwater each year, and eliminate discharge of treated water into waterways.

Palram Americas Group, Kutztown
University Partner: Lehigh University's Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $12,500

This manufacturer of polycarbonate and polyvinyl chloride plastic sheets will complete the development of standard operating procedures to maximize efficiency. These standards will enhance safety and reduce both direct and indirect costs, leading to improved competitiveness and customer satisfaction. 

PMF Industries, Inc., Williamsport
University Partner: Pennsylvania College of Technology
Ben Franklin Investment: $23,000

The company aims to optimize the electrical consumption of its largest motors -- energy consumption represents a significant cost of manufacturing. PMF provides contract manufacturing services with an emphasis on flow forming -- producing metal parts that are cylindrical, conical, or contoured with precise control of wall thicknesses. Customers include the aerospace and energy sectors, as well as users of precision pressure vessels. 

Suburban Testing Laboratories, Inc., Reading
University Partner: Lehigh University's Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $3,500

This Reading company will define current and future facility requirements for the installation of a new, centralized walk-in incubator room. Suburban provides environmental, product and water testing and analyses for both industry and municipalities. 
 

Philadelphia's Lingua.ly grows globally with its language-learning technology

Lingua.ly, a Philadelphia ed-tech startup, has launched WebApp, a tool to help teach language through the open web. 

Founded in 2011, Lingua.ly offers cloud-based language learning technology that provides learners with a free dictionary and platform to look up words in English, French, Spanish, Arabic or Hebrew. 

The new platform expands Lingua.ly's services to schools and other educational institutions that are looking to provide innovative ed-tech offerings for language students and bilingual learners attending school in a second language.

The app goes beyond traditional translation and dictionary services and assesses skill level behind the scenes, recommending fresh content and practice exercises personalized for the individual. It also includes new gamification features, such as a words- collected leaderboard and practice-session tracker to reward power users and encourage additional vocabulary searches.

"Lingua.ly’s WebApp enables schools to incorporate new, sophisticated technologies, which reinforce language learning in a more effective way through real world content from the Internet," explains CEO and co-founder Dr. Jan Ihmels.

The Android version of the app was released in early April and was downloaded more than 100,000 times in the first month alone. The iOS app is launching this summer, along with optimization for tablets and extension support for additional browsers. This fall, Lingua.ly plans to roll out support for new languages and higher order language elements, such as grammar.

The company is also expanding its reach through a new relationship with the largest textbook maker in Israel, The Center for Educational Technology (CET). In Septermber, CET will offer WebApp technology to its one-million-plus language learners in the country’s public school system. Lingua.ly is also examining expansion into new markets such as Brazil, Columbia, Argentina, Russia, China, the E.U. and U.S. schools via pilot programs this summer.

The company currently employs nine and is closing a funding round intended to double the R&D team size and strengthen its marketing capacity. 

Source: Kim Cox for Lingua.ly
Writer: Elise Vider

New on Campus: Drexel's Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships

A long-vacant corner in West Philadelphia is the new home of the Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships at Drexel University

Drexel re-developed the site with the help of a $10 million gift from the Dornsifes.

"As the venue for Drexel's research, practice and scholarship, the Dornsife Center will offer space for community outreach activities developed and delivered by the University’s participating colleges and schools, such as a free law clinic, health and wellness center, community education programs, arts collaborations, architectural design-build studios and engineering demonstrations,” the university said in a statement.

The center is located on a 1.3-acre site at 35th and Spring Garden streets. The university partnered with Philadelphia’s BLTA Architects to renovate three existing vacant buildings that formerly housed an elementary school and two administrative buildings. The site also includes an 1850s mansion that has been named Lindy House as a tribute to Philip B. Lindy, a philanthropist who secured the property for Drexel and was an active participant in the renovation.

The Dornsife Center was designed to support the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods and create a space for the Mantua, Powelton Village and Drexel communities to interact and share with each other. The newly renovated buildings provide a range of flexible spaces appropriate for individual counseling, group meetings and workshops, large gatherings and hands-on innovation.

Source: Drexel University
Writer: Elise Vider

New PA-based trade group advancing "the Business of 3D Printing"

Just like the Internet in the '90s and home computers in the '80s, 3D printing -- itself already more than 25 years old -- is neither fad nor hype. 

Now a new trade group, the 3D Printing Alliance,  is convening "The Business of 3D Printing," a June 18 conference in Harrisburg intended to look at how this $2 billion market can drive business in Pennsylvania.

"3D printing is one of those unstoppable forms of innovation that is already and will continue to transform manufacturing and a lot of other industries,” says Michael Antonucci, an Alliance managing partner. 

Additive manufacturing technology, 3D printing’s formal moniker, "is most commonly used for designing physical models, prototypes, patterns, tooling components, and production parts in plastics, metal, ceramics, glass or other composite materials," says Tom Palisen of the state's Department of Community and Economic Development.  It is used in industries including consumer products and electronics, automotive, medical and dental devices, aerospace and military markets. Emerging industries include the oil and gas sector.   

"From a pure application standpoint, 3D Printing has had the most traction to date with development of prototypes, and that's been the main driver for many, many years," says Antonucci. "It's moved well beyond prototypes now and it's all about getting innovative new products to market quicker, with less reliance on outsourcing and offshoring."    

3D printing proponents believe that additional applications are virtually limitless, especially as early patents expire, leading to a proliferation and reduction in the price of equipment. It took 20 years for the 3D printing industry to reach $1 billion and an additional five years to reach $2 billion; it’s on track to reach $4 billion by 2015, reports Bob Fiori, also an Alliance managing partner. By 2017, the market set to reach $6 billion worldwide. 

The 3D Printing Alliance, based in Downingtown, was formed last year to support the 3D printing industry throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Its mission is to commercialize innovation and drive economic growth centered on 3D printing through membership, workshops, events and other services. 

Source: Michael Antonucci and Bob Fiori, the 3D Printing Alliance; Tom Palisen, DCED
Writer: Elise Vider
 

PA businesses -- large and small, east and west -- to be honored with ImPAct Awards

An array of Pennsylvania companies -- everything from ABEC Inc. in Bethlehem to Zook Motors in Kane -- are finalists in the 2014 Governor’s ImPAct Awards

For the second year, the awards are aimed at celebrating "companies and individuals who are investing in Pennsylvania and creating jobs." The awards will be given at a May 30 luncheon at Hershey Lodge.

The finalists paint a picture of the Pennsylvania economy -- they range from small businesses to vast enterprises, startups to long-established companies, represent geographic diversity and come from a wide array of sectors. Where else would you find Webster’s Bookstore and Café in State College nominated in the same category as financial services giant Vanguard in Valley Forge?

The PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) led the process for nominations and selecting finalists. Two panels of judges from different parts of the state chose the 50 winners. Any size company is eligible, as long as they have significant operations in Pennsylvania and have been in business for at least one year. 

The awards will be given in five categories: Community Impact to a company that exemplifies the tenet of "doing well by doing good"; Entrepreneur Impact to recognize leadership via creativity, innovation, managerial ability, leadership skills or turnaround; Export Impact to a company that has significantly increased its export sales and number of new foreign markets since 2011; Jobs First, to recognize consistent job growth and retention; and Small Business Impact to a growing firm of 100 or fewer employees. 

Source: DCED and Laura Eppler, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern PA
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Philadelphia's Shenandoah Studio grows thanks to mobile gaming

On a Friday in 2010, Eric Lee Smith got his first iPad. By Monday, he was ready to quit his day job and launch a studio to develop mobile games.
 
Smith, along with Jeff Dougherty, Pat Ward and Nick Karp, founded Philadelphia's Shenandoah Studio in 2011. In 2012, Shenandoah launched "Battle of the Bulge." The game was an instant hit, both in terms of sales and critical reception, and remains a strong seller. "Drive on Moscow" followed in 2013.
 
Today, Shenandoah is located in Philadelphia's Good Company incubator, employs 13 and is preparing to launch a new game, "Desert Fox: The Battle of El Alamein," next month. "Gettysburg: The Tide Turns" is halfway through the development process; they hope to launch it by July, the 151st anniversary of the battle.
 
Smith comes from a long background in startups and game development, both old-fashioned board and electronic, and says that everyone at Shenandoah is a gamer.

"It’s a small market, but it’s kind of us," he says. "We know how to reach these people."

Besides the games it has developed, Shenandoah has another 12 games in its portfolio as a publisher.
 
Demand for mobile gaming continues to explode. The challenge is keeping up with constant change, a situation Smith compares to the early days of the Internet itself. Shenandoah specializes in so-called turn-based games, as opposed to real-time games where the action never stops.

"Real time games focus on tactics, coordination and skill," he explains. "Turn-based games focus on strategy. You have time to think and play. And you can play without being on the clock or online."
 
All of Shenandoah's games so far are for Apple products, but the company is planning to expand to other platforms. Smith also hopes to expand to three development teams by the end of the year, adding another five positions, and to follow up with a fourth team, essentially doubling the size of the company.
 
Source: Eric Lee Smith, Shenandoah Studio

Writer: Elise Vider
 

Allentown's Gonzo Pockets offers modern material for an ancient sport

Lacrosse, an ancient game, is getting a high-tech boost from a specialized material developed by a pair of LAX-playing brothers in Allentown, Pa. The sport is a fast-growing phenomenon with ancient origins, tracing back to Native American culture; some accounts date it back as far as 1100 AD. 
 
Lou and Desi Gonzalez founded Gonzo Pockets in 2013. Their Gonzo Mesh, which makes it easier to string lacrosse sticks and overcome the inconsistencies created by weather, is sold at more than 100 specialty shops across the United States and Canada. 
 
"We collected a lot of feedback from people," says Lou. "Changes in the weather, such as what happens when the mesh is wet, what happens when the weather is really hot and dry, affect the accuracy of the player's throws. We invented a product that takes away all of that. It gives you the consistency you want regardless of conditions."
 
The Gonzalez brothers were high school and collegiate lacrosse stars and Lou represented Spain in the World Games in 2006. Lou founded the Lehigh Valley Skyhawks Academy where the brothers provide coaching, training and development for youth lacrosse.  
 
Gonzo Pockets is a tenant at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center (the incubator was recently profiled in Keystone Edge). The young company has already generated $150,000 in revenue over an eight-month period. Gonzo partner Tom Schmitt estimates that they should reach the $400,000-to-$450,000 range over the next year or so, based on demand and current performance.
 
"We expect to be able to help Gonzo Pockets think through the process of adding additional products to their offerings over the next few years that will help them continue along a strong growth path," says Anthony Durante, economic development specialist for the Allentown Economic Development Corporation.
 
Source: Anthony Durante, AEDC
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Bigger and better Pittsburgh Public Market reopens

Pittsburgh significantly upped its creative city cred last week with the official re-opening of the Pittsburgh Public Market
 
Pittsburgh had been without a public market house since 1965 when the last one was demolished. In 2003, Neighbors in the Strip began planning for a new indoor year-round market in the city's historic market district, The Strip.
 
The new market supports local businesses by allowing them to thrive without the high overhead of a traditional storefront.

"The idea behind the market is to give food-based entrepreneurs the opportunity to focus on building their businesses," says market manager Tiffani Emig. "We envision it as a third space away from work and home where people can feel comfortable hanging out -- a place for education, a place for social interaction."
 
The market opened in 2010 in a smaller, temporary location. It had a "soft opening" in October at its new 25,000-square-foot home, a vacant telecom equipment building that was re-purposed by the city's Indovina Associates. Emig estimates the capital investment at $1.2 million.
 
The new facility hosts 20 small businesses, mostly food based; many of them do their food preparation on-site. Eliza’s Oven, for example, is a full-scale bakery operating out of only 100 square feet. Work on the project continues, with a shared-use commercial kitchen scheduled to open by summer, and more signage and streetscape improvements on the way.
 
The Pittsburgh Public Market is a non-profit entity under the auspices of Neighbors in the Strip, a non-profit organization established in 1999 to promote economic development opportunities while preserving the personality, integrity and character of the Strip, a one-time shantytown and wholesale produce market northeast of downtown.
 
Source: Tiffani Emig, Pittsburgh Public Market
Writer: Elise Vider
 

CMU seniors launch Fabricate.IO with an array of inventions and ingenuity

With the realization that a traditional 40-hour work week can quash creativity -- and that inventors aren't always the best businesspeople -- two Carnegie Mellon seniors have created Fabricate.IO Invention Studio. It's part start-up (though just now being incorporated), part business incubator, part co-working space, part hackathon and all imagination.
 
With what co-founder Todd Medema calls "a bunch of wildly different products" in various stages of development and commercialization, Fabricate "finds these individual inventors, brings them on board and mashes together all these different skill sets."
 
The promising products include:
 
* The World View Clock, says Medema, is "an artistic yet functional item" that shows photographs of locations (Grand Teton National Park, Austin Texas and Pittsburgh to date) that match current time, then change slowly to mark time's passage. Fabricate sells a clock for $299 and has developed an app for Android (1,000 downloaded) and now for Apple.
 
* Litmus, a b-to-b service launched this week, crowdsources market research. Starting at $25 for a single test, users can upload marketing pitches and materials for polling and results from Litmus.
 
* Runner Lighting is motion-activated floor lighting invented by Medema's roommate and co-founder Scott Martin. The pair plans a Kickstarter campaign to fund production.
 
* Sendery, built during a hackathon event, is a free, seamless, ultra-fast file-sharing service.
 
* Bagpipe is a guide to building your own, well, bagpipes. If it looks like PVC pipe and duct tape, that's what it is. Martin is a bagpiper and real bagpipes can cost thousands. Fabricate posted free DIY instructions.
 
* Minecraft Lamp is another DIY project with free instructions.
 
Medema says he and Martin plan to stay and grow Fabricate in Pittsburgh. "We have strong roots at Carnegie Mellon," he says. "Pittsburgh is a great place to find new talent and promote new products."
 
Source: Todd Medema, Fabricate.IO
Writer: Elise Vider
 

BFTP/SEP and NextFab partner to help advanced manufacturing startups

For an emerging manufacturer on the road to commercialization, developing a product prototype can be an expensive speed bump. Now, under a new partnership, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA (BFTP/SEP) will match up to $5,000 to provide startups access to facilities, equipment and services at NextFab Studio.
 
NextFab, which bills itself as a "gym for innovators," offers cutting-edge hardware and software tools, technical training, consulting and, most recently, incubator services. Its 21,000-square-foot space in Philadelphia houses a wet lab, 3-D printers and scanners, laser engravers and cutters, and electronics, wood and metal shops.  
 
Evan Malone, NextFab’s founder and president, says that while $10,000 is not usually enough to fully fund the prototyping process, it enables emerging manufacturers to refine or make incremental progress. 
 
The first startup benefiting from the collaboration is Biomeme, a maker of mobile systems for advanced DNA diagnostics and one of five nascent companies in residence at NextFab. The funding will enable Biomeme to use NextFab’s 3-D printers, robotic circuit board assembly technology and computer-numerical-control machine tools to refine their design and begin pilot manufacturing. 
 
Companies don’t need to be NextFab members to apply. The focus is on medical technologies, alternative energy and new consumer products. According to Malone, this program should "help the Philadelphia region and the Commonwealth become even more attractive as a destination for the brightest young entrepreneurs."
 
Source: Evan Malone, NextFab Studio
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Taffy Activewear joins Reading's Jump Start Incubator

While working as a trainer at a Philadelphia gym, Katie Kozloff Banks was struck by how frustrating it was for her female clients sized 12-and-up to find stylish, comfortable and flattering activewear. 
 
She knew the market potential was huge. According to a recent piece in the Washington Post, plus-size fashion is one of the fastest-growing segments of the apparel industry with over $17 billion spent in 2012.
 
In 2010, Banks launched Taffy Activewear, exclusively for women sizes 14 to 24.  

"The concept is simple," she says. "When you feel good about how you look, you work out harder. Our mission is to help plus-size women feel confident about the way they look in activewear. Whatever their goal, curvy women can look stylish and attractive as they lead healthier, more active lives."
 
Banks works with contract designers to create products that meet her specifications; the garments are manufactured in China. With a national team of sales representatives and a contract fulfillment center in Pennsylvania, Taffy’s sales have nearly doubled every year. The clothes are sold at national retailers including Burlington Coat Factory, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. Sales via Amazon are imminent.
 
Now Banks is launching a companion line, Katie K Active, with an extended size range (small through 24) aimed at a higher-end market. Online pre-sales will start next month and Katie K will be available starting in March at specialty retailers, boutiques, yoga studios and department stores, including Canyon Ranch resorts. 
 
Banks recently moved her company into the Jump Start Incubator in Reading. For now, she is a company of one, but her goal is to build a location where she can have in-house design, sales, warehousing and shipping under one roof. 
 
Source: Katie Kozloff Banks, Taffy Activewear/Katie K Active
Writer: Elise Vider
 
 

Going Electric: Tesla powers up in Pennsylvania

Tesla, maker of super high-end electric cars (base price $70,000), has powered up in Pennsylvania with a new King of Prussia store and a "supercharger" station off the PA turnpike.
 
The charging station at Somerset, which opened a few weeks ago, is part of Tesla's efforts to provide its drivers with a jolt of electricity along well-traveled corridors, enabling them to travel long distances for free. (Teslas can go about 300 miles on a single charge.) According to spokesperson Alexis Georgeson, Tesla chose Somerset to service travel between Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. 
 
With about 65 superchargers nationwide, Tesla is nearing its goal of enabling travel from Boston to Miami and coast to coast. 
 
Tesla's store at the King of Prussia Mall (which opened in June) exemplifies the car maker’s retail concept which is as revolutionary as the automobiles themselves. Think more Apple Store -- Tesla's nextdoor neighbor at the mall -- than Buick dealership.
 
Tesla chooses its retail sites -- 80 so far, with 24 coming soon -- based on foot not automotive traffic. In lieu of a freestanding building on a busy suburban roadway featuring a giant lot, Tesla opts for small (about 3,000 square feet) storefronts packed with interactive touchscreens. The goal, says Georgeson, is to create a no-pressure environment where prospective buyers can hang out, become educated about electric driving and create their own model with the features and functionality they want. 
 
Every Tesla is built to order so there is no need for a vast lot filled with inventory. Tesla maintains a few vehicles in the King of Prussia parking lot for test drives.
 
Tesla sold about 22,000 cars in 2013. Georgeson won’t reveal exact sales data for the King of Prussia store, but says the location is a "testament to the strength of that market."
 
Source: Alexis Georgeson, Tesla Motors
Writer: Elise Vider

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