RKL joins Reading CollegeTowne

Local entrepreneurs, Alvernia students can access business valuation services, expertise as RKL joins Reading CollegeTowne initiative

Local entrepreneurs and students will benefit from the business valuation expertise of a professional services leader as part of an expanded partnership between Alvernia University and Spring Township-based RKL LLP. As part of the university’s O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship and Reading CollegeTowne initiative, RKL will provide business valuation services to regional companies and firm Partner Paula K. Barrett, CPA/ABV, CVA, CGMA, CEPA, will provide Alvernia students with valuable, real-world insights as the 2020-21 Executive-in-Residence.


“RKL’s expanded partnership with Alvernia and commitment to the Reading CollegeTowne initiative provides the region’s entrepreneurs with valuable insight throughout the business incubation process,” said Alvernia University President John R. Loyack. “In addition, our students and faculty will greatly benefit from the engagement with Paula and her team through the Executive-in-Residence Program.”


RKL, who boasts the region’s largest team of credentialed valuation specialists, will measure the economic value of the companies fostered in the O’Pake Institute’s business incubator with an emphasis on thorough analysis, accuracy and objectivity.


“Business valuation is difficult to obtain, but a valuable piece of insight for budding entrepreneurs,” said Vice President, Associate Provost and Chief Operating Officer of the O’Pake Institute, Dr. Rodney Ridley. “RKL is the perfect partner for this service, and our business incubator clients will greatly benefit from their expertise.”


Barrett has three decades of experience assisting closely-held companies and their owners with exit strategy formulation, ownership interest transfers and succession plan development. She and other RKL consultants will conduct classroom lectures on the areas of finance, wealth management, human resources and finance, hold interactive lunch and learn sessions and expose students on-site opportunities to showcase practical application of job requirements and skill sets as part of the Executive-in-Residence Program. Students also learn about the specific skills that leaders are looking for in college graduates, various leadership styles and real-life professional scenarios.


“We are grateful for this opportunity to expand our partnership with Alvernia University and contribute to the advancement of local businesses and the development of the next generation of advisors,” said Barrett.


In its sixth year, the Executive-in-Residence program exposes students to regional executives and offers corporate leaders the opportunity to mentor Alvernia students. Past Executives-in-Residence include John Adams, Berks County district attorney and president of the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Institute; Paul Cohn, chief client experience officer and team leader relationship manager with Clermont Wealth Strategies; Tracy Davidson, morning news anchor for NBC10 in Philadelphia; Kenda Creasy Dean, published author and co-founder and lead permissionary of Ministry Incubators; Steve Gerhard, superintendent of Governor Mifflin School District; Brittany Sweeney, news reporter for PBS39 News Tonight; Chris Pruitt, CEO of East Penn Manufacturing; Andrea Funk, former CEO of Cambridge-Lee; Scott Gruber, CEO of Tompkins Financial; and Carl Anderson, general partner of Cannondale Partners LLP.


Through a new student fellows program, O’Pake serves as the catalyst for educational and business expansion in center city Reading. In addition to the partnership with RKL, O’Pake recently announced partnerships with SCORE Berks Schuylkill Chapter, Lehigh Valley Angel Investors, Kutztown University’s Small Business Development Center and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, as well as the institute’s first corporate sponsors, Pepsi® and Customers Bank.


In December, Alvernia unveiled Reading CollegeTowne, a strategic model for economic development in downtown. Alvernia assumed ownership of its newly acquired building at 401 Penn Street June 30. The downtown location is also where the new O’Pake offerings will operate.

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