For the last decade, Ben Franklin Technology Partners has been fighting for more state money.
The 35-year-old seed and early-stage capital provider for Pennsylvania tech companies faced budget slashes starting in 2008, and in 2019, the org was given $14.5 million in the state’s budget — a true 50% cut from its original allotment. The capital provider has still provided the region with the highest number of investments in the last decade, with its Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania branch in the Navy Yard making 356 investments between 2010 and 2019.
But the organization is making another attempt to grab more funding in the state’s 2020-2021 budget. It announced this week that it’s working with the Department of Community and Economic Development on a proposed plan to “fuel innovation across Pennsylvania.”
The proposed change to the budget, which Gov. Tom Wolf introduced, includes $12.35 million toward “an evidence-based, statewide innovation strategy,” BFTP said in a statement. And part of that plan includes an additional $5 million directly to the organization.
The proposed $5 million would go toward an initiative to work with area colleges and universities, said Jason Bannon, BFTP’s VP of marketing and communications. He said it’s also an achievement to have the governor championing the organization and the investments it makes.
“Bens across the state have been working with legislators to get them to understand the importance of this money,” Bannon said. “It is a step in the right direction, that’s how we all see it.”
There’s a state senate hearing Thursday at 3 p.m. that Bannon said the org will be paying attention to, but it’s possible no one will know the fate of the proposed additional budget until July 1, when the yearly budget is passed.
More money for the org would mean more early-stage investments could be made into growing companies. In its statewide five-year Economic Impact Report, the org found that each dollar invested by the state into BFTP generates $3.90 in additional state taxes. And jobs created by the org’s client industries pay an average of $79,364 annually, 52% more than the average non-farm wage in Pennsylvania.
“There’s so many things the region is doing right that the state could expedite and help explore the opportunity and talent here,” Bannon said.-30-