Morning Call: Readers React: Pa. lags behind other states in funding tech programs
This article was published on MCall.com.
So it’s official: Amazon HQ2 isn’t coming to Pennsylvania. But don’t let disappointment overshadow the success of our commonwealth’s technology transformation, nor steal away from opportunities to expand this vibrant sector in the future.
When Ben Franklin Technology Partners was launched 35-plus years ago, Pennsylvania was at the forefront of tech-based economic development investment. The strategy worked. BFTP has successfully built and accelerated dozens of desirable technology industries.
With its four regionally based centers, including one in the Lehigh Valley, the partners generated 51,000 jobs in client firms statewide, plus another 89,000 spinoff jobs, and boosted Pennsylvania’s economy by $23.5 billion. BFTP investments generate $3.60 in additional state tax revenue for every dollar invested.
But state funding for BFTP has diminished over the years, rendering the centers unable to invest in deserving companies, and having to seriously short-fund others. Simultaneously, other states have adopted technology-based economic development programs. Among the 12 most competitive states in this sector, their investments are nearly triple Pennsylvania’s.
Ben Franklin is recognized as the international gold standard in technology-based economic development. But restoring BFTP’s funding is essential for Pennsylvania to remain competitive and continue to drive innovation.
If we continue to underfund Ben Franklin Technology Partners, what we lose is lost forever.
R. Chadwick Paul Jr.
The writer is president and CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania in Bethlehem.