The Times-Tribune: Today's budget proposal to include extra cash for economic development
BY JON O'CONNELL, STAFF WRITER / PUBLISHED: FEBRUARY 4, 2020
Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2020-21 budget proposal comes out later today, but he’s already revealed a few treats planned for key state-funded economic development agencies.
The Industrial Resource Center network is slated to receive a $2.5 million allocation bump if the Legislature approves. The Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority would get an extra $5 million.
“We appreciate Gov. Wolf’s strong support of targeted investments in innovation in his budget proposal,” Laura Eppler, spokeswoman at Ben Franklin’s northeast office, said in an email. “Ben Franklin leads Pennsylvania’s technology-based entrepreneurship and manufacturing ecosystem, including providing substantial resources in Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and Hazleton. We will continue to leverage the commonwealth’s investment to create highly paid, sustainable jobs.”
Economic and industrial development organizations in the state’s Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance program would get an extra $2.5 million.
The Invent Penn State program, which supports entrepreneurs, would get $2.35 million.
The extra cash would be a boon for the companies Northeast Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center, or NEPIRC, serves, said agency President and Chief Executive Officer Eric J. Esoda.
His agency is one of seven nonprofits in the IRC network that help manufacturers, mostly small- to medium-sized companies, fill the talent pipeline and add new technology, part of the so-called “Industry 4.0” movement that relies heavily on technology such as artificial intelligence and automation.
“These additional resources will enhance our ability to provide essential Industry 4.0 awareness, assessment and implementation assistance to our regional manufacturers so they can remain competitive in today’s technology-based industrial market, assist them in addressing their workforce challenges and connect them with college, university and similar resources,” he said in a statement.