In 1988, David Thornburgh, the Director of the Wharton Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and a Wharton SBDC consultant named Larry Bell were looking for a way to expand business management education and consulting expertise for minority entrepreneurs in Philadelphia.
They developed a business plan with funding from Ben Franklin Partnership (now Ben Franklin Technology Partners), and in 1989, with the help of early supporters such as Bell Atlantic (now Verizon), The Enterprise Center (then, known as the West Philadelphia Enterprise Center) became a reality, setting up offices in the former Provident Mutual Insurance Company building at 4601 Market Street. David Thornburgh served as the Chair of the founding Board, and Larry Bell became the first Executive Director.
In 1992, Della Clark, an experienced business owner, came onboard to replace Larry, who was leaving to lead West Philadelphia Partnership. Under Della, The Enterprise Center underwent tremendous growth in the second half of the 1990s. In 1994, we purchased the then-dilapidated WFIL Studios building at 46th and Market Streets—the original home of American Bandstand before it moved to California in 1964. In 1997, we completed renovations that transformed the building into a state-of-the-art center for business and entrepreneurship.
In the 2000s, we added affiliates, The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation, to catalyze benefits for businesses and residents that spark community revitalization, and The Enterprise Center Capital Corporation, to provide debt and equity capital that businesses need to start, grow, and succeed.
In 2021, we opened an additional office in Camden, New Jersey, and began doing business as The Enterprise Center of New Jersey.