“Ben Franklin” joins in the celebration
R. Chadwick Paul, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP), officially dedicated the new West Wing of the Ben Franklin TechVentures® incubator/post-incubator facility at a ceremony Thursday afternoon, October 19. Approximately 100 business and community leaders, including elected officials, attended the event on the fourth floor of the new facility.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ business incubator program was among the first in the nation, and has been recognized and modeled internationally as one of the world’s best. Its business incubator has won the International Business Innovation Association Incubator of the Year Award on an unprecedented two occasions.
Eleven years ago, Ben Franklin opened the original 35,000-square-foot Ben Franklin TechVentures facility, to provide more space and resources to Ben Franklin Business Incubator resident companies. Just 18 months later, TechVentures was nearly filled. There was tremendous demand for incubator and wet lab space in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Ben Franklin TechVentures2, which opened in 2011, increased the total space to 109,000 square feet. By 2016, Ben Franklin TechVentures’ current rentable space was nearly full yet again. To address this escalating demand, BFTP/NEP has expanded with TechVentures West Wing.
This new 20,000-square-foot expansion provides additional, much-needed office and meeting spaces. The expansion was funded in part by grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, and the BB&T Economic Growth Fund.
Forty-one firms called Ben Franklin TechVentures home in 2017, employing as many as 170 people. Since 1983, Ben Franklin’s incubator has graduated 69 successful companies, together grossing more than $1.2 billion in annual revenue and creating more than 6,900 jobs. The statewide Ben Franklin network creates new Pennsylvania tax revenues that pay back $3.60 for every dollar of government investment in the program.
“By accommodating accelerating needs for incubator space that fuels growth and innovation, the Ben Franklin TechVentures West Wing will support the creation of new technology-based jobs,” said Paul. “The expansion will allow Ben Franklin to build on its legacy as a ‘job creation factory.’”
The event included a surprise visit by “Ben Franklin” himself, portrayed by Touchstone Theater founder Bill George, who was conducting his electricity experiment during the dedication. To officially open the West Wing, Ben handed Chad Paul the keys “to new spaces for the next generation of Ben Franklin entrepreneurs.”