History

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WREN began in 1994, with an ambitious plan to create an 8-month training and support program to assist 12 very low-income women in achieving their dreams of business ownership. By the spring of 1995, these WREN pioneers were operating their own enterprises. Encouraged by the positive results from this pilot project, we began building what we today refer to as the ‘WREN Community’.

Twenty three years later, WREN is a membership-driven organization with over 1000 members, men and women living in New England and beyond, who benefit from and support WREN’s many initiatives and resources, including Local Works, our retail store featuring the products of nearly 300 vendors, the Gallery at WREN, our two Local Works Farmers Market and Outdoor Marketplaces, and our incubator office space. Over the last two decades, we have assisted more than 1850 business owners. Nearly half of our members currently operate their own businesses.

WREN inspires possibilities, creates opportunities and builds connections through community. Our work connects people with one another, provides access to resources many couldn’t afford on their own, offers learning opportunities including entrepreneurial business training and technical assistance, creates and supports markets for entrepreneurs, actively engages in Bethlehem’s revitalization, and serves a national model for rural economic and community development.