Ryan E. Glenn
Proposed General Fund Budget has Ben Franklin Poised to Foster Economic Recovery and Growth in Pa.
By Ryan E. Glenn, Director of Statewide Initiatives
Ben Franklin Technology Partners
For the past 38 years, Ben Franklin Technology Partners has served as a trusted partner in helping to expand and diversify Pennsylvania’s economy, generating $3.90 for every dollar invested by the commonwealth. Along the way, Ben Franklin has boosted the state economy by more than $25 billion, helped generate 148,000 jobs through investments in client firms and spinoff companies and invested in more than 4,500 technology-based companies.
Ben Franklin was created in the 1980s during one of the most precarious economic periods in Pennsylvania history. Through booming economies, as well as dreaded recessions, Ben Franklin has remained strategically focused on supporting the promise of high-paying, sustainable jobs created by the commonwealth’s tech-based entrepreneurs and innovative manufacturers. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Ben Franklin faced an unprecedented challenge to its long-standing track record for success.
I am proud to report that despite 2020 being a year unlike any in recent memory, Ben Franklin and its clients played a significant role in uplifting Pennsylvania’s economy and keeping people employed. This April we proudly released our 2020 Annual Statewide Impact Report, and it reflected the value that Ben Franklin’s clients provide to the commonwealth.
Among the report’s highlights:
· Ben Franklin supported 1,697 companies and helped clients create nearly 1,309 jobs, while retaining 12,446 more positions.
· Ben Franklin’s clients continued to drive Pennsylvania’s economy with innovation and entrepreneurial efforts – developing 167 software copyrights and patents and launching 443 new products and processes.
· Ben Franklin’s clients generated more than $1.8 billion in revenue and secured $894 million in post-Ben Franklin financing.
We often like to point out that if investing in innovation makes sense in the best of times, it is even more critical during this pandemic – and it needs to be part of our path forward and recovery. Ben Franklin’s 2020 annual report shows the importance of creating and maintaining an ecosystem where Pennsylvania businesses can grow and thrive. Fortunately, Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2021-22 General Fund budget reflects a belief in Ben Franklin’s ability to support and nurture the types of jobs and opportunities that Pennsylvanians seek.
The governor’s proposed budget would provide continued investments in innovation through $14.5 million in funding to the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority (BFTDA), which funds the statewide economic development initiative that invests in and supports high-tech entrepreneurs and startups, as well as innovative manufacturers, which create and retain the highly paid, sustainable jobs that drive Pennsylvania’s new economy. This proposed funding comes after the state also provided $1 million to each of the four statewide Ben Franklin Technology Partners, matched by each, to invest in promising clients that were experiencing hardships due to the impact of COVID-19. (Many of Ben Franklin’s clients did not qualify for traditional business support programs.)
We need to invest in growth and Ben Franklin has a proven track record of being able to deliver results, even in the most challenging of circumstances. The governor’s proposed $14.5 million investment in innovation and tech-based economic development is not only a major steppingstone for ensuring Pennsylvania continues to foster and grow the innovation ecosystem that startups and entrepreneurs crave; it also represents an important investment in Pennsylvania’s future.
Today more than ever Pennsylvania needs the kind of return on investment that Ben Franklin and its clients provide for our communities. There has never been a better time to invest in innovation, and that investment starts by supporting the proposed 2021-22 General Fund budget.