When Emily Finer wanted to turn her dream of owning her own ballet studio into a reality, she turned to CAN DO and the CAN BE Business Innovation Center for help. Now, after finding the perfect home for her new studio and refurbishing the space to fit her business needs, Keystone Ballet Academy recently held its grand opening and became the newest tenant at the CAN BE business incubator in the Valmont Industrial Park.
Finer is a New York City native and a graduate of the famous High School for the Performing Arts. She began her ballet training in the Russian Vagonova technique with Vera Nemchinova. She was a student at the American Ballet Theatre from 1974 to 1980 and had many private lessons with some of ballet’s top dancers, including Finis Jhung, David Howard, Melissa Hayden and Wilhelm Burmann.
Although she stopped dancing due to an injury in her 20s, Finer’s love for ballet and the desire to share her knowledge and training never waivered. She moved to the Hazleton area in the early 2000s so her husband could pursue a job opportunity and, about four years ago, attended a week-long teacher training session at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet in Carlisle. Inspired by the syllabus presented and her own extensive background and knowledge, the idea to create Keystone Ballet Academy was born.
Last fall, Finer began devising a business plan after attending a seminar on starting a business at Wilkes University that was held under the direction of Kathleen DeLeo of the Small Business Development Center. She also attended the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce’s five-part Entrepreneur Seminar Series on starting a small business that was held early this year. The seminar covered topics including writing a business plan, making the business legal, obtaining financing and filing and paying taxes. When Finer was ready to look for studio space, she found the CAN BE center through a former tenant that had successfully graduated to its own space.
“After looking into some rental options, I realized it would be very difficult to start a business without established students. I am a student at Mystic Power Yoga and I remembered that they were a part of the CAN BE incubator program. I contacted CAN DO and said I wanted to do what Mystic Power Yoga did to build up my business,” she said.
As a small business entrepreneur, Finer said she found many benefits to locating her studio in the CAN BE center. “The staff recommended a lawyer and accountant who helped set up my business at no charge. The rent includes all utilities, restrooms, cleaning service of common areas and parking. This has made my cost about one-fifth what I would have to pay if I tried to rent or lease another space. Plus, they are always there to help if I have business questions. They also let us renovate the studio room to our specific needs, including adding a professional dance floor, double barres and eight-foot glassless mirrors,” she said.
As an incubator tenant, CAN DO set Keystone Ballet Academy up with a free one-year membership to the Chamber of Commerce. Finer said CAN DO’s support has been a valuable asset to starting her studio.
“The people at CAN DO are there to help. My phone calls were returned promptly. Everyone I spoke with was very welcoming and I believe genuinely wanted my business to succeed,” she said. “It makes me feel like I am not alone in this business. I can call and ask for advice, suggestions or recommendations and the combined knowledge of everyone there working together makes it easy to get the help I need.”
CAN DO President and CEO Kevin O’Donnell said, “We are excited to welcome Keystone Ballet Academy as the newest tenant of the CAN BE center. It’s very gratifying to know that Emily discovered CAN BE through one of our graduated tenants. That really speaks volumes about the services that we can offer and how entrepreneurs can grow successful businesses right here in Greater Hazleton. Keystone Ballet Academy is a great example of how CAN BE is a wonderful asset to both business owners and the residents of Greater Hazleton.”
The CAN BE Business Innovation Center is designed to help entrepreneurs grow new ventures in Greater Hazleton, providing them with hands-on management assistance, access to financing and orchestrated exposure to critical business or technical support services. CAN BE tenants receive flexible lease space, shared office services and access to office equipment.
Keystone Ballet Academy provides classical ballet training for boys and girls beginning at age four as well as adult classes. The studio is located in Suite 5 of the CAN BE center at 103 Rotary Drive in the Valmont Industrial Park in West Hazleton.