Ben Franklin News

Ben Franklin to Invest $114,500 in the Regional Economy

Five companies in BFTP/NEP’s 21-county service area received a total of $114,500 in support of regional economic development.

BFTP/NEP’s annual challenge grant is funding investments in two established manufacturers to apply new technology to help them succeed globally by producing better, faster, and/or at a lower cost. Ben Franklin provides 1:1 matching funding to established manufacturers for work with a college or university partner on technology-based innovation.

Summit Utility Structures, LLC, West Hazleton

Ben Franklin Investment: $14,500 – continuation project; client has achieved pre-determined milestones and is receiving more funding to accomplish additional project work

University Partner: Lehigh University’s Center for Supply Chain Research

Finish implementation of an Enterprise Resource Planning software solution at Summit Utility Structures (SUS), a manufacturer of tubular poles for use in the utility, lighting, transportation, and communication sectors to improve financial processes and costing, and streamline operations. SUS is becoming an industry leader in the production of transmission poles, substation structures, distribution poles, high-mast lighting, wireless poles, davit arms, crossarms, and cross braces.

Unique Pretzel Bakery, Reading

Ben Franklin Investment: $17,000

University Partner: Lehigh University’s Center for Supply Chain Research

Improve the efficiency of space utilization for storage, packing, and shipping at this producer of innovative food products using proprietary processes that provide a competitive cost and flavor edge. Unique Pretzel Bakery manufactures and markets a variety of pretzels, snacks, dips, condiments, and gift baskets.

To help companies accelerate the recovery from the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) provided a $1 million disbursement that was matched by BFTP/NEP. BFTP/NEP’s Return to Health funding program included emergency investments in 18 regional start-ups and 17 established manufacturers in May.

In July, BFTP/NEP invested in more firms using its Return to Health funding. Rebuilding Northeastern PA Manufacturers Investments allow BFTP/NEP’s recent established manufacturer clients with 250 or fewer employees to develop and implement plans for recovery. Many of these manufacturing firms were partway through the development of innovative production and process enhancements, and failing to complete them would hinder their recovery and growth. These clients will facilitate job retention and creation.

Ben Franklin announces the following Rebuilding Northeastern Pennsylvania Manufacturers Investments in two companies, which are provided as matching funding.

PMA-13, Inc., Allentown

Ben Franklin Investment: $8,000

Implement a new Enterprise Resource Planning system at this producer of signage for government organizations, hospitals, and companies. The new ERP system will enhance the company’s competitiveness during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. It will streamline and simplify processes, improve supply chain visibility, and advance financial operations to accommodate anticipated growth.

SOLO Laboratories, Inc.. Kutztown

Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

Develop a fully functional and HIPPA-compliant scanning application for mobile phones that physicians and consumers will use to scan and order orthotic devices from SOLO Laboratories. Also, begin developing a prototype mobile application for consumers that will allow them to order pre-molded and semi-custom insoles. SOLO Laboratories manufactures custom prescription orthotics and foot and ankle braces. This work will enhance the company’s competitiveness during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.

Also part of BFTP/NEP’s Return to Health Funding, Next-Generation Pandemic Defense Investments support new Ben Franklin clients that are creating tools and techniques that could help us all recover from COVID-19 and/or protect us from future infectious disease outbreaks. BFTP/NEP invested in one early-stage firm with a three-year, 0% interest loan.

IntelliGreen, West Hazleton

Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000

Develop and offer a hardware and software solution to expand the capabilities of IntelliGreen’s flagship Intelli-Temp Facial Recognition Temperature Scanner in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Intelli-Temp device can detect and identify a face, including for an individual wearing a mask; direct a person to put on a mask as a requirement to entry; detect a reference temperature within 0.5 degrees accuracy; and provide alerting for fever conditions; all within one second. The expanded capabilities in development will include networked attendance tracking, data aggregation, device protection and resiliency, fast alerting, attestation, and mobile app integration. These technologies support social distancing protocols while quickly and efficiently providing businesses a way to protect people and meet regulatory guidelines.