By Eileen Godin The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Dr. Rodney Ridley Sr. has helped fuel the entrepreneurial spirit of the Wyoming Valley, and if given an unlimited budget, he believes the Greater Wilkes-Barre area could become a polished gem.
Formerly Ridley was the director and associate professor in the Engineering and Physics Division at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre.
In 2014, he was appointed as the director of the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship and professor at Wilkes University.
The Philadelphia native said the key to the city's rebirth is in the growing entrepreneurial movement.
Business incubators such as the Innovation Center and the newly formed Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, both located off Public Square, are catalysts for this grassroots movement.
Question: Where did you go to college?
A:"I earned an undergraduate degree from Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania, and a graduate degree from Penn State University."
Question: What was your major?
A: "Lincoln University, earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics." "Penn State University a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Engineering Science and Mechanics."
Question: What was your first job out of college?
A: "A process development engineer in the Thermal Processing Area at Harris Semiconductor. Harris Semiconductor was later brought by Intersil Corporation and then by Fairchild Semiconductor that still operates it today."
Question: What has been the best advice you received in business?
A: "Focus on Deeds, not words (i.e. don't just talk about it, do it!); and stay ahead of the curve (i.e. stay relevant and don't rest on past achievements)."
Question: If your business had a limitless budget, what would be three things you would do differently?
A: -- "Create a small business fund to help local entrepreneurs;" -- "Make strategic investments in the downtown and Greater Wilkes-Barre region to transform it into the true "Diamond" city we all know it can and should be; and" -- "More compensation for all."
Question: What are our area's biggest strengths and weaknesses?
A:"Strengths: Hard working, friendly people; a strong cluster of great institutions of higher education; and a neighborly environment."
A: "Weakness: This region sometimes holds onto the past a little too much; we have a great history, and we should celebrate and learn from it, but we can't live in the past."
Question: Where did you grow up?
A: "West Philadelphia"
Question: Tell us about your family.
A: "I am 'the baby' of my parents' six children (of a blended family), including three brothers and two sisters. My wife and I also have six children, three boys and three girls." "My father worked at the U.S. Post Office, and my mother worked at a bank."
"I have an extremely large extended family (cousins, uncles, aunts, etc.) many of whom were/are educators. The patriarch of our family (my paternal great-grandfather) was a hard working preacher, and he set a foundation of Christian faith and a strong work ethic that is still very strong throughout our family today."
Question: What's the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
A: "That's when my wife and I "TRY" to spend time together. With six children, we rarely have time to talk alone."
Question: What's the last thing you do at night before you fall asleep?
Question: Where's your favorite place to go on vacation?
A: "Either Cape May, New Jersey, or Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Well, Maine is my wife's favorite place, but happy wife, happy life!"
Question: What's your biggest fear?
A: "Losing my wife or children."
Question: What's your favorite restaurant and/or meal?
A: "A lobster (or crab) bisque appetizer, a Caesar salad, a Rib-eye steak dinner with all the trimmings and a slice of New York style cheesecake for dessert."
Question: What do you want to do when you retire?
A: "Exactly what I'm doing now, just a little less of it with a little more humanitarian focus."