This article was originally published on LancasterOnline.com.
So it’s official: Amazon HQ2 isn’t coming to Pennsylvania.
Don’t let disappointment overshadow the success of our commonwealth’s technology transformation over the years or steal away from opportunities to expand this vibrant sector in the future. We need to continue to invest in homegrown tech companies and support world-class programs that drive this growth.
When Ben Franklin Technology Partners launched more than 35 years ago, Pennsylvania was at the forefront of investments designed to build and accelerate the development of technology-based industries. The strategy worked.
With four regionally based centers, including in downtown Lancaster, Ben Franklin has generated 51,000 jobs in client firms, plus another 89,000 spinoff jobs, and boosted Pennsylvania’s economy by $23.5 billion. Ben Franklin investments generate $3.60 in additional state taxes for every state dollar invested.
But state funding for Ben Franklin has diminished over the years, meaning we have been unable to invest in deserving homegrown companies or seriously short-funded others. That's detrimental to the state’s economy; studies show young firms create the vast majority of new jobs.
At the same time, other states have adopted technology-based economic development programs of their own. Among the 12 most competitive states in this sector, their spending is nearly triple Pennsylvania’s.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners is one of the nation’s most successful technology-based economic development programs. But additional funding is essential to remain competitive, attract investments locally and drive innovation.
What we lose by underfunding Ben Franklin is lost forever.
CEO and President
Ben Franklin Technology Partners