“Ben Franklin” joins in the celebration

BETHLEHEM, PA – R. Chadwick Paul, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP), officially dedicated the new West Wing of the Ben Franklin TechVentures® incubator/post-incubator facility at a ceremony Thursday afternoon, October 19. More than 100 business and community leaders, including elected officials, attended the event on the fourth floor of the new facility.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ business incubator program was among the first in the nation, and has been recognized and modeled internationally as one of the world’s best. Its business incubator has won the International Business Innovation Association Incubator of the Year Award on an unprecedented two occasions.

Eleven years ago, Ben Franklin opened the original 35,000-square-foot Ben Franklin TechVentures facility, to provide more space and resources to Ben Franklin Business Incubator resident companies. Just 18 months later, TechVentures was nearly filled. There was tremendous demand for incubator and wet lab space in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Ben Franklin TechVentures2, which opened in 2011, increased the total space to 109,000 square feet. By 2016, Ben Franklin TechVentures’ current rentable space was nearly full yet again. To address this escalating demand, BFTP/NEP has expanded with TechVentures West Wing.

This new 20,000-square-foot expansion provides additional, much-needed office and meeting spaces. The expansion was funded in part by grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, and the BB&T Economic Growth Fund.

Forty-one firms called Ben Franklin TechVentures home in 2017, employing as many as 170 people. Since 1983, Ben Franklin’s incubator has graduated 69 successful companies, together grossing more than $1.2 billion in annual revenue and creating more than 6,900 jobs. The statewide Ben Franklin network creates new Pennsylvania tax revenues that pay back $3.60 for every dollar of government investment in the program.

“By accommodating accelerating needs for incubator space that fuels growth and innovation, the Ben Franklin TechVentures West Wing will support the creation of new technology-based jobs,” said Paul. “The expansion will allow Ben Franklin to build on its legacy as a ‘job creation factory.’”

The event included a surprise visit by “Ben Franklin” himself, portrayed by Touchstone Theater founder Bill George, who was conducting his electricity experiment during the dedication. To officially open the West Wing, Ben handed Chad Paul the keys “to new spaces for the next generation of Ben Franklin entrepreneurs.”

About the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP), an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, creates and retains highly paid, sustainable jobs by linking companies with experts, universities, funding, and other resources to help them prosper through innovation. BFTP/NEP’s strategy encompasses three key areas:

  1. developing and growing early-stage technology-based companies,
  2. helping established manufacturers creatively apply new technology and business practices to achieve industry leadership, and
  3. promoting an innovative community-wide infrastructure that fosters a favorable business environment for high-growth companies.

Since beginning operations in 1983, BFTP/NEP has helped to create 17,415 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 27,384 existing jobs, to start 492 new companies, and to develop 1,591 new products and processes. Since 2007, BFTP/NEP clients have generated $1.4623 billion in follow-on funding. The work of the Pennsylvania Ben Franklin Technology Partners network has generated $3.60 of additional state tax revenue for every $1.00 invested in the program.

BFTP/NEP owns, manages, and is headquartered in Ben Franklin TechVentures®, an award-winning business incubator/post-incubator facility on Lehigh University’s campus in Bethlehem, PA. BFTP/NEP also owns and manages the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center in Bloomsburg. Applying more than 30 years of experience and two international awards for excellence in business incubation, BFTP/NEP leads a 15-member northeastern Pennsylvania business incubator network, which is among the largest such networks in the world.

Photo credit: Ryan Hulvat