Reading Eagle: Letter: Economic effort needs more funds
This article was originally published in the Reading Eagle.
Development funding crucial for Pennsylvania's prospects.
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. We need continued investment in homegrown tech companies that provide high-paying jobs and sustainable economic growth.
When Ben Franklin Technology Partners launched more than 35 years ago, Pennsylvania was at the forefront of tech-based economic development investment. The strategy worked. BFTP has built and accelerated dozens of desirable technology industries in Pennsylvania. Regional Manager Connie Faylor of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania has worked with many companies in Berks and Schuylkill counties.
The partners have generated 51,000 jobs in client firms statewide, plus 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. That's detrimental to our economy; studies show young firms create the vast majority of new jobs.
Meanwhile, other states have adopted technology-based economic development programs. Among the 12 most competitive states in this sector, their investment is nearly triple Pennsylvania's.
BFTP is recognized as the international gold standard in technology-based economic development programs. But restoring its funding is essential for Pennsylvania to remain competitive, attract follow-on investments and continue to drive innovation. If we continue to underfund it, what we lose is lost forever.
R. Chadwick Paul Jr.
President and CEO, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania