It Takes a Village to Retain Top Talent

April 18, 2020
The Innovation Park coolBLUE community enriches work life.

Innovation Park at Penn State is more than a research park. It’s an ecosystem where business, education and research come together. Innovation Park offers 118-acres of remarkable office, manufacturing and research space, and is part of one of the world’s premier research institutions, with access to Penn State’s scientific, engineering, technology and business resources, as well as the support services needed to transfer knowledge from the University to the marketplace. The network of resources available at Innovation Park supports early-stage entrepreneurs and established businesses alike.

Residents in the Park know that finding a home base for your business is about more than cost per square foot.

“Most business leaders know that when choosing their space, they have to consider their #1 asset: their employees,” said Michelle Cook, an Innovation Park staff member known formally and affectionately as “the coolBLUE Lady.”

Michelle’s job is to create an appealing, community-oriented environment for the resident companies and their employees who call Innovation Park home. “Most people know me as the coolBLUE Lady,” Michelle said, “but the name probably means different things to different people, depending on their role or job description.”

From bringing in food trucks at lunchtime to coordinating meetings and events, Michelle makes work and work-life balance a little easier. At the core, coolBLUE is an employee engagement program that supports every company in Innovation Park at once. The effort provides everything from professional development to administrative support to fitness and fun activities.

“We take field trips to campus on the Penn State trolley, we visit unique spaces within the Park, like the laundry facility at the Penn Stater and the 3-D printing lab, we meet up for lunch or for book club, we take advantage of the walking trails, and much more,” Michelle explained.

Some events are geared toward specific audiences, like networking events and the Rainmaker Series, a seminar series designed for entrepreneurs in the Technology Center Incubator. Others are open to all Park residents, like performances by acts from Center for the Performing Arts. The Red Cross regularly visits the Park for blood drives and some events raise money for local causes.

Michelle is the go-to resource for helping companies connect with resources in the Park for events like meetings, conferences and presentations.

“The coolBLUE concept sets the Park apart from conventional office parks,” according to Michelle. “It’s more than just opportunities for fun. We help companies achieve an important goal: recruiting and retaining top talent.”

Get connected with the coolBLUE community by emailing Michelle at coolbluelady@psu.edu.

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