Guest Editorial: Senator John R. Gordner (R-27 PA)
Pennsylvania has seen unprecedented challenges due to the downturn in the national economy over the past several years. State government has a duty to make smart choices–and an obligation to keep our heads out of the sand. We must focus on economic growth, our prosperity and our future.
During difficult economic times, wise investments can be made to help local entrepreneurs bring industry-changing technologies to market and enable innovative enterprises to grow. This drives our economy forward and creates well-paying jobs. I’ve seen first-hand, in my district and across the Commonwealth, economic development programs that yield meaningful results.
One of those programs is the Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP). Throughout its 27-year history, BFTP has invested wisely and returned $3.50 for every dollar invested by the State. The jobs created by these investments are in industries that pay 35% more than the average salary in the Commonwealth.
As we begin a new legislative session with a newly elected Governor and General Assembly, we face continued challenges, but we also have an historic opportunity to position the Commonwealth for growth and as an epicenter for technological advancement. As a member of the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, I have worked hard to foster economic development. I’ve heard the success stories from dozens of companies that employ hundreds of Pennsylvanians in high-paying jobs how embracing the entrepreneurial spirit, nurturing innovative ideas and partnering with forward-thinking enterprises can reap tremendous long-term benefits for our communities.
Throughout its 27-year history, BFTP has invested wisely and returned $3.50 for every dollar invested by the State. The jobs created by these investments are in industries that pay 35% more than the average salary in the Commonwealth.
A key example is Northumberland-based Strong Pools and Spas. The company manufactures plastic pools, spas, saunas, and backyard ponds using advanced rotational molding methods. In 1994, Strong was a start-up with one employee. Today, Strong is one of the three largest spa manufacturers in the world, with extensive distribution including retail giants Costco and Sam’s.
Strong has teamed with Ben Franklin repeatedly during the company’s evolution for help with business operations, strategic planning and advice, technical support, plant layout planning, product and process improvements, and business planning.
Ben Franklin invested a total of $468,000 in the company over several years and linked it to the Plastics Manufacturing Center at the Penn College of Technology and Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center to implement additional operational improvements. The company now employs 250 people, with 75 of those jobs added just last year when such gains were rare. It is these kinds of investments—and long-term commitments—that yield tremendous results for Pennsylvania.
Throughout this issue of Keynotes, you will find other success stories from around the Commonwealth, all nurtured and enabled by Ben Franklin Technology Partners.
Keynotes April, 2011
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