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U.S. Commerce Department Invests $6 Million in recovery Act Funding to Spur Innovation, Create Jobs in Bethlehem, Pa.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, September 25, 2009

CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS

202-482-4883

U.S. Commerce Department Invests $6 Million in Recovery Act Funding to Spur Innovation, Create Jobs in Bethlehem, Pa.

Commerce Secretary Locke, White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Choprah discuss Obama administration’s strategy for American innovation with local business leaders

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra visited Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania at Lehigh University today to discuss job creation, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the Obama Administration’s strategy to spur American innovation.

“America's creative thinkers and innovators will lead the way to economic recovery,” Locke said. “President Obama is taking historic steps to lay the foundation for the innovation economy of the future. Earlier this week he laid out a strategy for American innovation that builds on more than $100 billion of Recovery Act funds that support innovation. Today we move that strategy forward.”

Locke and Chopra also announced a significant new Recovery Act grant for Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania to expand Ben Franklin TechVentures, its incubator/post-incubator facility. The $6 million grant, from the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), will increase Ben Franklin’s ability to deliver to early-stage technology companies hands-on support, guidance and connections to key resources during the economic recovery. The construction of the facility’s addition will also create jobs in the short term.

“Ben Franklin TechVentures is an award-winning facility that now stands as a leader in Pennsylvania's tech industry, providing space and expertise for the businesses of the future,” Locke said. “This project creates jobs and fosters a favorable business environment for high-growth companies.”

Under the Recovery Act, 4.8 million Pennsylvania families have benefited from $2.5 billion in tax relief under the Making Work Pay Tax Credit. An additional 10,868 Pennsylvanians have taken advantage of the First Time Homebuyers Credit, receiving $87 million in tax relief. All told, more than $9.5 billion has been obligated to Pennsylvania under the Recovery Act.

“I am pleased to see stimulus funds at work for Ben Franklin Technology Partners and Ben Franklin TechVentures,” U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter said. “Support for this economic development initiative advances the role of market success through technology, ensures cutting-edge industry in the Lehigh Valley and helps hasten economic stability for Pennsylvania.”

Responding to aggressive goals set out by President Obama and Vice President Biden, Secretary Locke directed the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration to act expeditiously to deliver Recovery Act funds to communities where they were needed most. Across the country, the department has made vital investments in initiatives like workforce development and training centers, regional business incubators and transportation projects to connect communities to key markets.

With the delivery of today's grant, EDA has obligated all $147 million of its Recovery Act project funds one full year ahead of schedule.

“This grant should help promote economic development in the eastern part of the Commonwealth, and I am glad that the U.S. Department of Commerce is announcing this award today,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said. “This project is another example of how the Recovery and Reinvestment Act is delivering targeted investments that will help Pennsylvania’s economy turn the corner.”

President Obama’s strategy for American innovation seeks to harness the inherent ingenuity of the American people and the dynamic private sector to ensure that the next economic expansion is solid and broad-based. It focuses on critical areas where sensible, balanced government policies can lay the foundation for innovation that leads to quality jobs and shared prosperity.

The administration’s strategy has three parts:

    1. Invest in the Building Blocks of American Innovation. Ensure that our economy is given all the necessary tools for successful innovation, from investments in research and development to the human, physical, and technological capital needed to perform that research and transfer those innovations.

    2. Promote Competitive Markets that Spur Productive Entrepreneurship.It is imperative to create a national environment ripe for entrepreneurship and risk taking that allows U.S. companies to be internationally competitive in a global exchange of ideas and innovation. Through competitive markets, innovations diffuse and scale appropriately across industries and globally.

    3. Catalyze Breakthroughs for National Priorities.There are certain sectors of exceptional national importance where the market is unlikely to produce the desirable outcomes on its own. These include developing alternative energy sources, reducing costs and improving lives with health IT, and manufacturing advanced vehicles. In these industries where markets may fail on their own, government can be part of the solution.

“Ben Franklin TechVentures will bring together technology entrepreneurs, Ben Franklin staff and Lehigh University faculty and students to their mutual advantage,” R. Chadwick Paul, Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, said. “This 47,000 square-foot building addition will accelerate growth and innovation in our technology economy as more space becomes available in our expanded incubator/post-incubator facility.”

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania is part of a four-center, state-funded economic development initiative that links companies with business and technical experts, universities, funding, and other resources to help them prosper through innovation. The organization’s strategy encompasses three key areas: developing early stage, technology-oriented companies; helping established manufacturers creatively apply new technologies and business practices; and promoting an innovative community-wide infrastructure that fosters a favorable business environment for high-growth companies. It also operates Ben Franklin TechVentures, an award-winning incubator/post-incubator facility, on Lehigh’s campus. Ben Franklin Technology Partners helps clients to achieve and sustain market success and competitive advantage through technology. For more information, visit: http://nep.benfranklin.org/.