“Entrepreneur” is not merely a synonym for the founder of a start-up company. Entrepreneurship is a state of mind, an attitude, sometimes an innate drive. Entrepreneurship is the capacity to identify and actively seek unmet needs in the market; the expertise and passion to create the products or services that respond to those needs; the willingness to tolerate and embrace risk; and the personal motivation and stamina to work tremendously long and hard to bring the dream to fruition.
Being entrepreneurial is not limited to entrepreneurs. The most successful companies now and in the future will encourage and even demand an entrepreneurial spirit among their staff. Innovation will drive a company’s success throughout its lifecycle. Ben Franklin Technology Partners is uniquely suited to catalyze and support innovation and entrepreneurship in early-stage companies and in established manufacturers.
Recognized and modeled internationally as one of the best technology-based economic development organizations in the world, Ben Franklin Technology Partners is immensely successful by every measure. A long-range independent study by the Pennsylvania Economy League released in 2009 showed that Ben Franklin statewide boosted the Gross State Product by $9.3 billion from 2002 through 2006 and provided more than $517 million in additional tax revenues as a direct result of its work. In 1989 through 2008, Ben Franklin created or retained more than 50,000 highly paid, sustainable Pennsylvania jobs, as well as developed hundreds of new companies and new technology-based products and processes. Ben Franklin delivers $3.50 of incremental tax revenue to Pennsylvania for every dollar of state investment in our program. I know of no other government-funded program that provides such a return.
Despite an unparalleled history of producing economic benefit for the Commonwealth, Ben Franklin’s funding was cut 42% in fiscal year 2009-10. The combination of funding cuts and inflation erosion has seriously compromised our ability to continue delivering the stellar results we have produced in the past and negatively impacts future economic growth prospects for Pennsylvania. Reducing Ben Franklin’s funding was a tragedy.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners dramatically increases the success rate of the highest-potential early-stage technology companies. We provide start-ups with access to seed capital, business and technical expertise, and a robust network of expert resources. We also help develop and implement productivity improvement strategies for established manufacturers through technological innovation and process improvement.
Ben Franklin – a proven national model for tech-based economic development
In recognition of the remarkable success of this program, many other states have modeled their programs after the Ben Franklin Technology Partners. In 2008, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, an arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce, named Ben Franklin “the most effective regional economic development organization in the nation.”
The Ben Franklin state appropriation should be restored to its original level and then increased incrementally in subsequent years. This will enable an expansion of seed financing for technology-driven enterprises at their earliest stage and help to fulfill business and technical support needs that young enterprises face as they seek to bring their products to market. Further, a restoration of Ben Franklin funding will support the expansion of regional technology collaboration that links companies, colleges and universities, economic development partners, entrepreneurs, corporations, and service providers.
Entrepreneurship and technological innovation will drive the economic recovery and sustain long-term economic growth on a nationwide level. History has demonstrated that innovation and business growth often hit new strides during times of economic transition. Ben Franklin Technology Partners is a proven engine of job creation and retention that generates tremendous return on investment.
Pennsylvania should continue to reap the rewards of its foresight 28 years ago in creating, developing, and funding a program that has evolved to be the envy of the world. The Commonwealth should restore and increase funding to the Ben Franklin Technology Partners to the great benefit of Pennsylvania. Our success will serve as a model for the nation.
R. Chadwick Paul, Jr.
R. Chadwick Paul, Jr., President and Chief Executive officer
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania.