Entrepreneur To Start Business Accelerator In Former Wilkes-Barre UARD Insurance Buildings

April 2, 2019 GMT

WILKES-BARRE — After 18 months in the works, local entrepreneur Kris Jones acquired properties formerly owned by GUARD Insurance at 16 and 24 S. River St. in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

He was awarded a $1 million state grant to help him buy and renovate the two buildings. He declined to say the total purchase price, and a deed was not yet filed. Luzerne County has assessed 16 S. River St. at $1.5 million and 24 S. River St. at $499,500.

Plans for the acquisition include setting up a business accelerator and the new headquarters for Jones’ companies, LSEO.com, KBJ Capital and Special Guest App, an entertainment booking service.

The accelerator will work with businesses that have achieved product-market fit and are in the growth phase, Jones said. A ribbon cutting and unveiling is planned for May, he said.

“Once unveiled later in May, this accelerator will be working with businesses that already have traction and are in growth phase,” Jones said.

He said the businesses will have access to extensive acceleration support and services, including finance, accounting, legal, growth marketing, mobile and web development and business consulting.

Jones founded Pepperjam as a gourmet food business in 1999 and it later became a top internet marketing agency. Ten years later, Pepperjam was sold to eBay.

“This acquisition represents one of the most exciting days of my entrepreneurial journey,” Jones said. “I remain committed to building and supporting innovative companies that provide high-paying jobs and positively impact our region.”

Gov. Tom Wolf previously announced that Jones would receive the $1 million state grant through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

Projects approved for this funding must follow requirements, including providing matching funds and minimum project costs, said Michael Gerber, spokesman for the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

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