Hazleton innovation hub named for local leader Pasco Schiavo

Penn State Hazleton Chancellor Gary Lawler, left, and Linda Schiavo unveil the logo for the Hazleton LaunchBox, which will be named after Linda's brother, the late Pasco L. Schiavo.

Penn State Hazleton Chancellor Gary Lawler, left, and Linda Schiavo unveil the logo for the Hazleton LaunchBox, which will be named after Linda's brother, the late Pasco L. Schiavo.

Credit: Penn State

HAZLETON, Pa. — Penn State and the Invent Penn State initiative are honoring the late Pasco L. Schiavo, a longtime philanthropist for Penn State Hazleton and the surrounding community who passed away Dec. 29, 2018, by naming the Hazleton LaunchBox in his name. The naming recognizes Schiavo’s stature in the region and a $1 million gift from his estate to the campus.

The LaunchBox is one of 21 innovation hubs Penn State has opened across the Commonwealth to provide early-stage startups with viable plans for growth and the support and resources needed to build a sustainable and scalable business. To recognize Schiavo’s gift, the University will name the facility “The Hazleton LaunchBox, Supported by Pasco L. Schiavo, Esq.”

“Pasco was deeply committed to Penn State Hazleton and the Hazleton community, and this transformative gift will serve both,” Penn State President Eric Barron said. “The innovation hub that will carry his name will help drive economic growth in this region and across the Commonwealth. We’re very pleased to honor Pasco and extend his incredible legacy in this significant way.”

The Hazleton LaunchBox, scheduled to open later this year at 13 W. Broad St. in downtown Hazleton, is a community collaboration with partners including the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress; CAN DO; CAN BE; the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce; the Society of Hispanic Business Professionals; and other organizations engaged in The Hazleton Innovation Collaborative (THInC). The LaunchBox will offer a variety of services to community members, students and faculty who aspire to become business owners. 

As part of “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” the University’s current fundraising campaign, each of Penn State’s 21 innovation hubs has the opportunity to secure $1 million in matching support from the University when gifts to the hub’s endowment reach $1 million. The combined funds will provide operational funding to the innovation hub each year, ensuring that it continues to spark economic development and support entrepreneurship in perpetuity.

In 2018, the University announced $1 million grants from PNC Bank and the Hite Family to fund and name the Happy Valley LaunchBox, Powered by PNC Bank, and the Altoona LaunchBox Supported by the Hite Family. The LaunchBox at Penn State Hazleton is the third innovation hub to reach its $1 million goal and secure a $1 million match from the University.

“Pasco was very proud of the Hazleton community and was very involved in many organizations,” said his sister, Linda Schiavo. “He always looked for ways to provide and enhance opportunities for residents of the Greater Hazleton area. He would be very pleased to have this center for entrepreneurship bear our family’s name.”

Born and raised in Hazleton, Schiavo earned a bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College in 1958 before entering the U.S. Army Reserve and receiving a juris doctor degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1962. During his lifetime, he became Luzerne County assistant district attorney, a member of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and a designated "Super Lawyer" with his own legal practice. Schiavo’s involvement with Penn State Hazleton spanned more than 50 years as a donor, president and member of the campus advisory board, advocate and instructor. He chaired “For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students at Penn State Hazleton,” helping to raise more than $7.6 million, and was named an honorary alumnus in 2015. After a $1 million gift in 2014, the campus administration building was named after Schiavo as Pasco L. Schiavo Hall. Schiavo also endowed four scholarships for students at the campus and served as an adjunct instructor in law and Spanish.

“Pasco Schiavo was a tireless advocate for educational opportunities and for community development — all to benefit residents of the area. We are grateful for his involvement with the campus and the University, and we are thankful for this additional gift,” said Penn State Hazleton Chancellor Gary M. Lawler. “All of the organizations collaborating on the LaunchBox eagerly anticipate the impact and success that the facility will bring to the Hazleton area business community and economic development. We hope that downtown Hazleton will continue to be revitalized by the resources available at The Hazleton LaunchBox, Supported by Pasco L. Schiavo, Esq.”

Invent Penn State is a Commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success. Invent Penn State blends entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding for commercialization, and university/community/industry collaborations to facilitate the challenging process of turning research and discoveries into valuable products and services that can benefit residents of the state and all humankind. Learn more at invent.psu.edu.

Schiavo’s estate gift will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hard-working students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.