Page 22 - Network Magazine Spring 2019
P. 22

                 It’s time to restore funding to PA’s tech-based job-creation engine
Launched more than 35 years ago, Ben Franklin Technol- ogy Partners was ahead of its time. In 1983, with steel and other industries in decline, unemployment was high, and Pennsylvania's economy was reeling. The state needed
a bridge between its struggling heavy manufacturing economy and the technology-
based economy that would carry
it forward. Enter Ben Franklin.
However, all of this success is at risk. This recognized international gold standard in tech-based economic development is starved for financial support.
Since 2007-08, state funding for Ben Franklin has dropped approximately 50 percent, from $28 million
By every measure, the plan
worked. The statewide initiative
accelerated the development
of technology-based industries
by investing in start-ups and funding innovation in established manufacturers. Serving all 67 Pennsylvania counties through four regionally-based centers, includ- ing the northeastern center located in Ben Franklin TechVentures in Bethlehem, Ben Franklin became one of the most widely known and emulated technology- based economic development programs in the nation.
to $14.5 million per year. Pennsylvania’s current budget draft for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which begins July 1, would keep funding at the reduced level, which is about half of the amount that it has received over most of its history. Because of diminished funding, Ben Franklin has already been unable to invest in some deserving companies and has seriously short-funded others.
Ben Franklin significantly increases the success rate of the highest-potential early-stage technology firms. It also supports established manufacturers by leveraging technological innovation in Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities to implement product and process improvements that allow clients to be more globally competitive. Ben Franklin identifies and evaluates investment opportunities, selects the most promising ones, and provides companies with cru- cial resources as they strive to succeed in today’s highly competitive marketplace.
Clients come from a variety of industries -- from computer software, hardware, and telecommuni-
cations, to robotics and industrial machinery manufactur- ing, to life sciences, including pharmaceutical, biotech, instrumentation, and medical devices. Clients are technology-intensive, investing in research and develop-
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”-Ben Franklin
 Since its inception, Ben Franklin has invested in more than 4,500 technology-based companies and boosted the state’s economy by more than $25 billion, helping to generate 148,000 jobs through investments in client firms and spinoff companies in Pennsylvania.

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