By Stephen Brawley, President and CEO
When Pennsylvania’s elected leaders included $14.5 million for the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority (BFTDA) in the 2021-22 General Fund budget they not only sent a resounding message of support to Pennsylvania’s entrepreneurs and innovation-focused businesses, they also demonstrated an awareness of and appreciation for the return-on-investment Ben Franklin has provided the commonwealth during the past 38 years.
As a long-time resident of central Pennsylvania, I want to continue to build an ecosystem where all the communities I serve, including the community in which I live and work, can thrive economically. I believe it is essential that Pennsylvania’s best and brightest minds have the support they need to successfully build their businesses and strengthen the communities we proudly call home.
I love working with Ben Franklin of Central & Northern Pennsylvania because of the work we do every day to help expand and diversify Pennsylvania’s economy. Even before COVID-19 brought about a storm of economic challenges, Ben Franklin was instrumental in ensuring Pennsylvania benefitted from in-demand revenue streams to meet the needs of residents. We have always been different from many other expenses funded by the state because we provide a return on investment that generates tax dollars and helps fund many of the daily services Pennsylvania residents have come to rely upon.
For every dollar invested by Pennsylvania in Ben Franklin Technology Partners, we generate $3.90 for Pennsylvania and have boosted the state’s economy by more than $25 billion! In 2020 alone, during some of the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ben Franklin supported 1,697 companies and helped clients create more than 1,300 jobs while retaining 12,446 more positions. Along the way, Ben Franklin clients developed 167 software copyrights and patents and launched 443 new products and processes. In total, our clients generated more than $1.8 billion in revenue in 2020 and secured $894 million in post-Ben Franklin financing.
We know that workforce talent goes where job opportunities exist and actively seek to live in communities that provide ample opportunity for career growth. Ben Franklin keeps high-paying jobs in Pennsylvania by focusing on the needs of local, innovative tech-based companies and small manufacturers, and the entrepreneurs who lead those companies. We actively help startups survive their higher-risk, formative years and lay a stable foundation to build upon so they can attract and retain talent and keep Pennsylvania globally competitive. The jobs Ben Franklin clients create are in industries that pay average annual salaries of $79,364 per year, 52 percent higher than the average private nonfarm salary in the commonwealth. Best of all, our clients create the kinds of jobs young people seek to build their careers in Pennsylvania.
Ben Franklin can provide a high return on investment for Pennsylvania because we live with our investments beyond the concept stage until they are established. Our concerted efforts include coaching, resources, planning and more. With four regional centers and offices throughout the state, our clients can always find us, because we are never far away and we actively engage with them on a regular basis.
The need for innovation in Pennsylvania has never been more important than in the last two years. Our state leaders have made it known that they value the work done by Ben Franklin Technology Partners. At a time when every tax dollar matters, Ben Franklin continues to pay dividends for Pennsylvania and demonstrate its reputation for serving as an economic driver for the state. Now Ben Franklin must build upon its success by continuing to make smart investments in businesses that keep Pennsylvania’s best and brightest minds in our communities and support companies that attract world-class talent and offer family-sustaining jobs and opportunities for career growth.