The Wharton Small Business Development Center has received a five-year $500,000 grant from Wells Fargo & Company, cementing a long-term partnership in the years to come.

Last night, the Wharton SBDC hosted a reception to honor the grant for a group of business consultants, entrepreneurs, bank representatives and Wharton students and faculty.

Ideas for the grant were seeded in a conversation two years ago between Community Bank President of Wells Fargo’s Delaware Valley North region Sang Kim — a 1997 Wharton graduate — and Therese Flaherty, director of the Wharton SBDC.

“The idea behind it is to combine our resources and support the growth of small business,” Kim said. “If we can play a role in strengthening the Wharton SBDC, then we’re doing what we need to do in our community.”

The Wharton SBDC, one of 18 SBDCs in Pennsylvania, provides specialized assistance and resources to small businesses and entrepreneurs in the greater Philadelphia area. It employs the skills of Wharton faculty and students as well as outside consultants. Both Wharton SBDC and Wells Fargo hope the donation will strengthen their partnership.

“We don’t just want to hand them a check and walk away. We want to build more of a lasting relationship,” Wells Fargo spokesperson Barbara Nate said.

Later in the evening, Wharton junior Lauren Gibli was given the first-ever award jointly administered by the Wharton SBDC and Wells Fargo. She was honored for her leadership at the SBDC in the past year.

Sprinkled among the audience were also many budding entrepreneurs.

Lauren Ellison, president of Ellison Nursing Group, LLC, is a client of the Wharton SBDC. Her business gives in-home health care to intellectually disabled children and adults.

Syreeta Lockett founded Mosamuse, an online fashion and entertainment publication that aims to gear young women toward “designing their lives and picking their dreams.”

At the Wharton SBDC, she learned how to turn her dream into reality, she said.

Realizing dreams is one of the main goals of the partnership in serving the local economy.

“In this economy, it’s going to be the job of small businesses to pick up and carry the game,” Vice Dean of the Wharton MBA program Howard Kauford said.

This article has been updated from a prior version to reflect the correct name of Syreeta Lockett.

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