On April 4th Lafayette students toured the latest addition to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Lehigh Valley, The Factory. Founded by Rich Thompson, former CEO of Freshpets, is a state of the art innovation and scale-up facility focused on food, beverage, and pet products.
After the tour students enjoyed a gourmet lunch prepared by the Factory’s resident chef and learned more about Rich’s entrepreneurial journey. Having served as CEO of three different consumer packaged goods companies, Rich had candid remarks about the joys and challenges of being an entrepreneur.
On hand for the tour was President of Utz snacks, Thomas Flocco, who was visiting the Factory to learn more about the businesses being incubated there. Citing the importance of innovation in the consumer snacks industry, Mr. Flocco said innovation hubs like the factory are critical for identifying the next new idea to meet unmet customer needs and drive growth for companies.
Impressed by the questions and engagement of the Lafayette students Rich extended an offer to host 3 summer interns over the semester to assess the current state of innovation in the Lehigh Valley in comparison to other innovation hubs across the country, with the idea of identifying concrete ways that the Lehigh Valley can continue to attract and retain the region’s top talent.