It’s been five years since PennWest Edinboro opened the doors to the campus branch of the NWPA Innovation Beehive Network.

Chris Lantinen, who serves as director of Edinboro’s Beehive – the Center for Branding and Strategic Communication –  said that while the work can sometimes be challenging, the community assistance and student experience are worth the effort.

“Our program doesn't thrive without the immense creativity supplied by our students. In both our branding and marketing offerings, the students have to first understand and lock into the mission, values and aspirations of vastly different clients,” he said. “That alone takes great skill and empathy. Our system is designed so that they succeed in this pursuit.”

Lantinen, who taught design and intermediate reporting before securing the director role, looked back at some of the highlights and projects from the center’s first half decade.

During the summer and fall of 2022, the center collaborated with Erie, Pa., woodworking artist Armando Reyes, who launched Black Monarch – a furniture line handmade from ash hardwood damaged by the emerald ash borer.

Black Monarch logo

The Center started with logo development and expanded to business cards, banners, social media visuals and gift card designs.

“It's a great example of how we can help startups set the base for their visual identity,” Lantinen said.

In the spring of 2022, the Beehive redesigned the branding for General McLane School District in Edinboro, which now adorns the logos and branding on the district’s website and merchandise. The semester-long process featured frequent collaboration with school administration for an updated look.

This fall, Lantinen and the Beehive crew celebrated another year of awards from the Northwest Pennsylvania chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

They took home gold and silver medals in the “Marketing” category at the annual Niagara Awards on Thursday for their branding work and achievements with Foxburg Golf Preservation and Tandoori Hut Indian Cuisine, respectively.

To add a little audio flair to the center’s offerings, Lantinen presented the new season of “Buzz Generated” – the center’s business podcast. This fall’s episodes included a conversation with Missy Hitz, owner of Monacella Massage & Kinesiology. All episodes are available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

In October, Dr. Daniel Greenstein, chancellor of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, visited the Beehive complex to speak with students about their individual projects and how the organization fits into the greater campus.

Recent projects also included logo development and asset work for Ansumana Komba Gbembo Tailoring, Designing and Training in Erie, along with branding work for Corry-based meal prep service: Your Daily Serving.

Chris Lantinen, Edinboro Beehive director

“We've been lucky that so many talented students have chosen to pass through the Beehive, either by working for us or taking classes that are integrated with our Center,” Lantinen said. “The feedback we've received is pretty consistent – it's rewarding for the students to get real-world clients on their respective resumes, and clients enjoy seeing the passion others can have for their business endeavors.”