The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors has recently approved the investment of nearly $300,000 in established manufacturers in the region.

The Pennsylvania Ben Franklin Technology Partners network has returned $3.50 to the state treasury for every $1 invested in the program.

Since beginning operation, BFTP/NEP has helped to create 15,479 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 21,459 existing jobs, to start 429 new companies, and to develop 1,127 new products and processes. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania owns and manages Ben Franklin TechVentures®, an award-winning business incubator/post-incubator facility on Lehigh University’s campus in Bethlehem at which it is headquartered. BFTP/NEP also manages the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center in Bloomsburg. The Pennsylvania Ben Franklin Technology Partners network has returned $3.50 to the state treasury for every $1 invested in the program.

Alpha Packaging, Bethlehem, Northampton County

University Partner: Lehigh University

Ben Franklin Investment: $48,000

Implement practices and install equipment to reduce energy consumption by 20% at this manufacturer of plastic bottles and jars primarily for the nutritional, pharmaceutical, personal care, houseware, consumer chemical, and food and beverage markets. The plastic container industry is highly competitive both domestically and internationally, and controlling energy costs is essential to maintaining competitive advantage.

Bemis Polyethylene Packaging Division, West Hazleton, Luzerne County

University Partner: The Pennsylvania State University Hazleton

Ben Franklin Investment: $7,454

Identify solutions which utilize waste heat streams to offset existing energy consumption at this manufacturer of flexible packaging for the bakery industry. The bakery packaging market is highly competitive. This investment will help Bemis to identify opportunities to reduce manufacturing costs.

Carpenter Technology Corporation, Reading, Berks County

College Partner: Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technology Applications Center

Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000

Complete investigation of methods to recover waste heat from high-temperature exhaust streams at this producer of specialty cast-wrought and powder metallurgy and titanium alloys. Carpenter manufactures for niche applications in the automotive, aerospace, consumer products, energy, defense, industrial, and medical markets.

EcoTech Marine LLC, Bethlehem, Northampton County

University Partner: Lehigh University

Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

Improve supply chain processes through modifications to an existing Enterprise Resource Planning system, and plan for expansion into a larger space. EcoTech’s patented VorTech propeller pump is located outside of hobby reef aquariums, providing better heat control and flow. EcoTech has enjoyed outstanding sales with the pump. Its new Radion LED lighting unit improves aquarium growth, coverage, and energy efficiency, and provides a customizable spectral output.

Highwood USA, LLC, Tamaqua, Schuylkill County

College Partner: Pennsylvania College of Technology

Ben Franklin Investment: $14,547

Improve heat resistance and impact strength of styrenic plastic, a material used in the production of synthetic wood. Highwood manufactures and markets a line of extruded synthetic wood products for fencing, decks and docks, outdoor furniture, spa cabinets, walkways, and railings. The synthetic wood products markets are growing, and these material improvements will allow the company to attract a greater market share.

Hitachi Metals Automotive Components USA, Blossburg, Tioga County

University Partner: The Pennsylvania State University

Ben Franklin Investment: $36,750

Continue the development of a collagen-based core binder system that can displace the phenolic urethane and resin binders now used at this foundry. This binder system will reduce emissions and energy consumption, allowing this ductile iron caster to double production. Hitachi produces primarily for the automotive industry, and competes internationally.

Palace Foods, Inc., Reading, Berks County

University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center

Ben Franklin Investment: $11,881

Optimize and upgrade the current company facility to increase capacity and efficiency to meet increasing demand. Palace Foods manufactures Indian cuisine and ethnic specialty foods.

Quadrant EPP, Scranton, Lackawanna County

College Partner: Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technology Applications Center

Ben Franklin Investment: $12,288

Complete assessment of a geothermal application that utilizes mine water as a method to reduce energy costs in Quadrant’s manufacturing process. Quadrant produces engineered polymer products in sheets, rods, and tubes. The investment will allow the company to assess the feasibility of displacing the need for chilled process water using mechanical refrigeration with mine water as a coolant. Implementing this environmentally friendly process will enhance the company’s profitability and competitiveness in its cost-sensitive market.

Simplex Homes, Inc., Scranton, Lackawanna County

University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center

Ben Franklin Investment: $17,500

Increase productivity and decrease production costs in order to enable sales growth in Simplex’s line of energy-efficient modular homes. The company is a regional leader in high quality modular construction, and is positioning itself as an industry-leading builder of energy efficient homes. Simplex is involved in building a prototype Net Zero home that is both environmentally conscientious and economically prudent for homeowners.

Tobyhanna Army Depot, Tobyhanna, Monroe County

University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center

Ben Franklin Investment: $30,000

Tobyhanna repairs circuit card assembly (CCA) of various older technologies including through-hole and surface-mount. With this investment, Tobyhanna will develop a new capability to test and repair all CCA technologies including fine-pitch surface-mount and ball grid array CCA within a new centralized CCA test and repair facility. This will significantly reduce energy costs on the base and allow Tobyhanna to greatly expand its capacity and workload. Tobyhanna is the U.S. Defense Department’s recognized leader in the areas of automated test equipment, systems integration, and downsizing of electronic systems. With almost 5,500 employees, Tobyhanna is the largest employer in Monroe County.

Vigon International, East Stroudsburg, Monroe County

University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center

Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

Automate the batch record management system and the work order information system  at this manufacturer and supplier of high-quality flavor and fragrance ingredients. By improving these systems at Vigon, the company will be able to increase its market share and add new capabilities to its operation.