The Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority (BFTDA) awarded $4 million to the statewide Ben Franklin Technology Partners to support promising clients that are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, even as their innovations are helping the state respond to this public health crisis.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners serves all 67 counties through four regionally based centers in Pittsburgh, State College, Bethlehem and Philadelphia, with numerous satellite offices spread across the state. Each of the four centers will receive $1 million.
“From the very first days of this crisis, Ben Franklin clients have been working around the clock to help our Commonwealth address this public health emergency by contributing in various ways, from treatments to testing to logistics to other important services,” said Ryan E. Glenn, Ben Franklin’s Director of Statewide Initiatives.
“For them, this funding is critical,” Ryan continued. “No sector of our economy is untouched. But Pennsylvania’s innovation economy is especially vulnerable. Most economic recovery programs only provide access to capital for larger corporations and more established businesses, or the programs are narrowly targeted at qualified small businesses, so they don’t apply to startup firms and entrepreneurs.”
Each of the four regionally based centers will match the $1 million it receives in funding from the BFTDA with another $1 million.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a 2020-21 General Fund budget that included a $5 million increase for BFTDA. If investing in innovation made sense in the best of times, it is even more critical post-pandemic, especially as many of these innovative companies are helping the state respond to this crisis. For examples of Ben Franklin clients that have answered the call to combat COVID-19, please CLICK HERE.
Earlier this month, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, one of the most widely known and emulated state technology-based economic development programs in the nation, partnered with the governor, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, and several other life sciences, health-care, and business organizations to create the “Pennsylvania Manufacturing Call to Action Portal” to mobilize manufacturers that can produce critical medical supplies and products in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Investments in innovation will play a major role in how the state rebounds economically. The U.S. Census Bureau began releasing a weekly state-level series on Business Formation Statistics (BFS), which provides insight into the pandemic’s impact on Pennsylvania entrepreneurial activity through new business applications. The pandemic has led to a sharp decline in Pennsylvania business startups. During the period of March 8 through April 11, business applications fell 34.3 percent over the prior year in Pennsylvania, and 23.8 percent nationally.
According to an in-depth analysis by two independent 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. Jobs created by Ben Franklin’s client industries pay an average of $79,364 annually, which is 52 percent more than the average non-farm wage in Pennsylvania. Continuing to invest in innovation and grow the state’s ecosystem will be crucial to rebooting the state’s economy.
“We are so grateful for this BFTDA funding and appreciative of the support shown by the Wolf administration,” Ryan said. “We are proud of the work our clients are doing to improve the human condition in these trying times. Innovation is the key to resolving this crisis. It truly demonstrates that investments in innovation save lives.”
For more information, see the PA Department of Community and Economic Development release, visit www.benfranklin4pa.com or follow the statewide Ben Franklin Technology Partners on Twitter @StatewideBen. Coverage via Penn’s NE Weekly