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BFTP’s Funding Is Essential For Pennsylvania

December 18, 2018

Editor: 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, nor steal away from opportunities to expand this vibrant sector in the future. We need to continue to invest in homegrown tech companies that provide highly paid jobs and sustainable economic growth. When Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP) launched more than 35 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 in Pennsylvania. Regional Manager Ken Okrepkie of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania has worked directly with many companies in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne, and Wyoming counties. With its four regionally based centers, the partners have 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. That’s tremendously detrimental to our economy; studies show young firms create the vast majority of new jobs. At the same time, recognizing the competition, other states have adopted technology-based economic development programs of their own. Among the 12 most competitive states in this sector, their investment is nearly triple Pennsylvania’s. Ben Franklin Technology Partners is recognized as the international gold standard in technology-based economic development programs. But restoring BFTP’s funding is essential for Pennsylvania to remain competitive, attract follow-on investments, and continue to drive innovation. If we continue to underfund Ben Franklin Technology Partners, what we lose is lost forever. R. Chadwick Paul Jr. BETHLEHEM

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