BETHLEHEM, Pa., – Governor Tom Wolf today joined Senator Lisa Boscola and Representative Steve Samuelson to announce a $1.5 million state grant to aid in the construction of a 14,500 square-foot expansion to the Ben Franklin TechVentures® (BFTV) technology incubator/post-incubator facility. The new “TechVentures West Wing” will provide crucial support to entrepreneurs and start-ups that help create and retain sustainable, family-supporting jobs.
“TechVentures has been a model for how business incubators can grow and nurture companies from founding to expansion, creating jobs and important intellectual properties along the way,” Governor Wolf said. “This expansion will help up to 20 new companies take advantage of the incubation services offered here, and it will support the creation of almost 40 new jobs. This is exactly the type of project the commonwealth should be investing in.”
Current rentable space in Ben Franklin TechVentures is near capacity, meaning companies looking to locate may identify locations outside of Pennsylvania. The $1.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant will enable the construction of a four-floor addition that will include business incubation, office, and meeting space to attract early-stage technology-oriented companies to the commonwealth.
“We expanded the original Ben Franklin TechVentures in 2011 due to burgeoning demand, and now that expanded facility is 97% full,” said Chad Paul, President and CEO of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP). “The TechVentures West Wing addition will allow Ben Franklin to build on its history as a ‘job creation factory’ by accommodating accelerating needs for the incubator space that fuels economic growth.”
BFTP project that TechVentures West Wing will accommodate up to 20 new companies and support the creation of 39 news technology-based jobs in the first five years.
“I am proud to support our state’s continued investment in Ben Franklin TechVentures®,” Senator Boscola said. “This partnership has provided Pennsylvania taxpayers a substantial return on investment. Since 1983, the Ben Franklin Technology Partnership of Northeastern Pennsylvania has created over 16,000 jobs, started 470 companies and developed over 1,300 new products or processes. Investing in incubator and post-incubator space like this is one of the best ways the commonwealth can partner with the private sector to encourage entrepreneurship and lay the groundwork for building a better tomorrow.”
“This funding is a wise investment in a program with a proven record of economic investment in our state,” Rep. Samuelson said. “I commend Governor Wolf for approving a project that promotes job growth and innovation in the Lehigh Valley and throughout Pennsylvania.”
BFTP/NEP is headquartered in BFTV on Lehigh University’s campus in Bethlehem. This site allows BFTV resident companies access to Ben Franklin expert personnel as well as Lehigh’s equipment, resources, faculty, and student staffing. TechVentures West Wing will multiply the proven success of BFTP/NEP in creating high-value technology-based jobs in its 21-county service area.
Since beginning operation in 1983, BFTP/NEP has created 16,986 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and retained 23,761 existing jobs, started 482 new companies, and helped clients to develop 1,433 new products and processes. BFTP/NEP clients have generated more than $1.4 billion in follow-on funding. The Pennsylvania Ben Franklin Technology Partners network has returned $3.60 to the state treasury for every $1.00 invested in the program.