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Ben Franklin Technology Partners Grew Pennsylvania Economy by $4.1 Billion

By Colin McEvoy on January 18, 2019

Ben Franklin Technology Partners operates the Ben Franklin TechVentures business incubator in Bethlehem

Ben Franklin Technology Partners operates the Ben Franklin TechVentures business incubator in Bethlehem

Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP) helped grow the Pennsylvania economy by $4.1 billion, generated $386 million in tax receipts for the state, and helped create 11,407 high-paying jobs between 2012 and 2016.

“Ben Franklin is a driving force in our region that actively supports the crucial role that technology-based start-ups and innovation-led manufacturers play in the Pennsylvania economy,” said R. Chadwick Paul, Jr., President & CEO of BFTP of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

“In order to keep our communities competitive in today’s global marketplace, we must continue to invest in and grow innovative ecosystems,” Paul said. “In so doing, we will create and retain the well-paid, technology-based jobs sought by Pennsylvanians of all ages.”

BFTP’s impact on the Pennsylvania economy were among the findings from an in-depth analysis from two nonpartisan research organizations, the Pennsylvania Economy League and KLIOS Consulting.

Every dollar invested by the state into Ben Franklin generates $3.90 in additional state taxes, the analysis found, which was entitled “The Economic Impact of Ben Franklin Technology Partners.”

Additionally, jobs created by investments from BFTP are in industries that pay annual salaries of $79,364 per year, or 52 percent higher than the average private nonfarm salary in Pennsylvania, according to the analysis.

BFTP has invested in 560 companies across Pennsylvania from 2012 to 2016, according to the new analysis. Those investments generated 4,182 jobs in client firms, plus an additional 7,225 spinoff positions, combining for a total of 11,407 new Pennsylvania jobs.

BFTP is one of the nation’s longest-running technology-based economic development programs. For more than 31 years, it has provided both early-stage and established companies with funding, business and technical expertise, and access to a network of innovative resources.

It operates the Ben Franklin TechVentures business incubator in Bethlehem, which brings together entrepreneurs, a large network of experienced advisors and investors, and Lehigh University faculty and students to accelerate the growth of the region’s technology economy.

Ben Franklin TechVentures opened a new West Wing expansion last year, allowing BFTP/NEP to build on its history as a “job creation factory” by accommodating accelerating needs for incubator space that fuels economic growth. More recently, BFTP of Northeastern Pennsylvania approved $220,000 in support of regional economic development.

BFTP officials, however, have expressed concerns that state funding shortfalls are starting to curtail the organization’s ability to fund companies appropriately, creating missed opportunities. Since 2007-08, state funding for Ben Franklin has dropped more than 50 percent, from roughly $28 million to $14 million per year.

“Because of diminished state funding, Ben Franklin, which relies on state funding, already has been unable to invest in some deserving companies and has seriously short-funded others,” the organization stated in a news release. “Efforts to bring new customers and product innovations to small manufacturers also are hurt.”

BFTP serves all 67 counties through four regionally based centers. Each center is united by a mission to invest in early-stage innovation-led firms and to develop and support a more competitive and attractive Pennsylvania economy that creates highly paid, sustainable jobs.

The partners also work with the state’s manufacturers to help them apply product and process innovations that enable them to be more internationally competitive.

Since its inception, BFTP has invested in more than 4,500 technology-based companies and boosted the state economy by more than $25 billion, helping to generate 148,000 jobs through investments in client firms and spinoffs companies in Pennsylvania.

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