Congressman Dan Meuser visited the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center (BRTC) business incubator, which is owned and managed by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP_NEPA), on Friday, April 22. He and his staff toured the facility and met with Ben Franklin President and CEO Angelo J. Valletta and BRTC staff to learn more about how Ben Franklin and the incubator is supporting regional economic development. During the visit, Congressman Meuser met resident companies – Joe Yodock, U.S. Director of Road Safety, Safe Roads Engineering Inc. (Powell Group); Patricia Leighow, CEO, SusQ-Cyber Charter School; and Cathryn Connolley, President and COO, Doctivity Inc.
The Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center serves as Ben Franklin’s Upper Susquehanna Regional Office and is a business incubator located in a Pennsylvania Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ). It offers 18,000 square feet of leasable space in flexible configurations, and currently houses 12 early-stage firms, employing 47 at this time and as many as 114 people, depending on resident companies.
The BRTC has provided significant regional economic development impact:
|New Companies||Jobs Created||Jobs Retained||New Products||New Processes|
|Total since 2010 inception||15||283||1,774||81||43|
The BRTC’s incubator support services greatly increase client companies’ chances of successful development and growth, allowing them to generate highly paid, sustainable jobs and enhance the region’s prosperity. Support to incubator companies includes:
- Direct Business Assistance – An experienced on-site regional/incubator manager provides advice and guidance, backed by the full resources of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Ben Franklin makes investments in qualifying early-stage firms. These typically range from $30,000 to $150,000 for each tranche, for a total not to exceed $450,000 per client. BFTP_NEPA takes calculated risks investing in young, unproven companies. Ben Franklin assists early-stage firms as they prepare to raise additional capital and provides them with an important and well-respected initial endorsement.
- Business and Technical Expertise – Each company in the Ben Franklin portfolio benefits from the collective experience of seasoned professionals who focus on turning high-potential ideas into high-growth businesses. In-house expertise is complemented by the Ben Franklin Solutions Network of advisors, professional service providers, investors, and college and university experts. Members of the Solutions Network number more than 700, many of whom are called upon multiple times a year, creating a powerful and comprehensive support program for clients
- College and University Resources – BFTP_NEPA taps into the strength of Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities, whose faculty and students work directly with many of its clients. Ben Franklin provides an essential link between client companies and the wealth of knowledge, equipment, and facilities in the Commonwealth’s higher education institutions. The BRTC’s proximity to Bloomsburg University, in particular, as well as other colleges and universities, allows close working relationships among incubator companies and the students, faculty, and resources of the university. The importance of business-university partnerships to providing students with real-world experiences that prepare them for employment upon graduation is well documented. Business incubators are also highly supportive environments within which recent graduates can become entrepreneurs and launch their own start-ups. Early-stage firms benefit from the new perspectives and “extra pair of hands” that student interns and recent graduates offer. Young companies have access to university professors and equipment. College and university partnerships with a business incubator are beneficial to the entire region.
- Infrastructure- Ben Franklin staff partner with economic development colleagues to create and develop a comprehensive support system for early-stage technology-based companies and established manufacturers throughout northeastern Pennsylvania.
The BRTC is a member of the 14-member Ben Franklin Business Incubator Network, one of the largest incubator networks in the United States and an example of BFTP_NEPA’s work in regional infrastructure. Started by Ben Franklin in the early 1990s, the network brings together incubator managers in northeastern Pennsylvania to exchange ideas and information, work collaboratively, and share guidelines that are in accordance with International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) standards. Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, also owned and operated by BFTP_NEPA, is a two-time winner of the InBIA International Incubator of the Year award.
Through this network, BFTP_NEPA leverages its incubator experience throughout northeastern Pennsylvania. Members of the Ben Franklin Business Incubator Network fuel innovation, catalyze the regional technology economy, and create the jobs of the future.
The Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center is a valuable member of the area’s economic development ecosystem. The incubator is doing great work to bridge higher education and local business, encourage high-tech entrepreneurship, and bring good technology-based jobs to a rural community. Its resident companies enhance the diversification and resilience of the local economy.