Sen. Blake Announces $ 292k State Grant to help NEPA Entrepreneurs

SCRANTON, Jan. 13, 2015 – Continuing his work to grow Northeast Pennsylvania’s technology-based economy, Sen. John Blake today announced the award of a $292,500 state grant to help the Scranton-based consortium, TecBridge, further develop the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The investment is from Pennsylvania’s Discovered in PA, Developed in PA – or D2PA grant program.

“Entrepreneurs have great ideas but they don’t always have the resources to bring that inspiration to life,” Sen. Blake said. “Investing today in TecBridge means more entrepreneurs in Northeast Pennsylvania will have the means to develop their ideas and transfer them into the marketplace and our local schools will have new opportunities for the transfer of knowledge into the workplace.”

“TecBridge will use its D2PA award to promote our nascent technology companies; open new opportunities for the bright minds now learning in our region’s colleges; support incubator openings for even more tech startups so they can gain a solid footing in our regional economy; and allow company CEOs to network with one another to find new synergies, innovations or partnerships for job growth, sales growth and revenue growth.” Blake said.

Specifically, the new grant will allow TecBridge to offer workshops, seminars, internships and start-up support to entrepreneurs, Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) companies, private industry, as well as secondary and post-secondary school students.

Since he was first elected in 2010, Sen. Blake has focused his attention on improving NEPA’s technology-based economy. In addition to Innovate in PA, which is creating a multi-million dollar capital investment program for new and promising early stage businesses statewide, he has vigorously supported NEPA’s Regional Bioscience Initiative and three annual forums on the importance of career-focused education to ensure that more students make an efficient and productive 21st century transition from the classroom to the world of work.

TecBridge was formed in 2012 by the Great Valley Technology Alliance and the Northeast Pennsylvania Technology Institute. The “Tec” in TecBridge is an acronym for “technology, entrepreneurship, and collaboration.”

Discovered in PA, Developed in PA looks for opportunities to seed innovative ideas that, like TecBridge, promote entrepreneurship, technology transfer, business outreach, and increased capacity.


Blake, Boscola, Senate Committee to Discuss Job Creation, Economic Development, Veterans Help During Scranton Roundtable

HARRISBURG, Oct. 3, 2013 – The Senate Democratic Policy Committee will bring together venture capitalists, public policy experts, Scranton officials and economic development analysts at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the University of Scranton for an in-depth discussion about turning around Pennsylvania’s economy.

[frame align=”right”]Job_Creation[/frame]The two-hour long event, at the request of Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna), will feature three panels of experts who will share their ideas about the commonwealth’s immediate economic development needs, and to talk about Blake’s recently enacted “Innovate in PA” program.

“Innovate in PA” is designed to improve Pennsylvania’s capacity to support the job creators of the future with new investments of nearly $100 million in the life sciences, advanced manufacturing, information technology and energy business sectors.

The policy committee will also explore pending legislation designed to improve PA’s business infrastructure, increase the flow of venture capital, up the volume of affordable housing, help veterans become business owners, and improve state contracting opportunities for minorities and women.

Media coverage is welcomed and encouraged.

WHO:             State Sens. Lisa Boscola and John Blake, as well as members of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee

Teri Ooms, executive director, Institute for Public Policy &  Economic Development

Richard Stein, CEO, Klios Inc.

Amy Luyster, assistant vice president, The Scranton Plan

Chad Paul, CEO, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeast PA

Dr. Mel Billingsley, CEO, Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central PA

Mike Gausling, managing director, Originate Ventures

William J. Schoen, administrator, Skills in Scranton

Ronald Vogel, regional representative, PA Department of Labor & Industry

David Jadick, acting public affairs officer, Tobyhanna Army Depot


WHAT:          Roundtable discussion on “Innovate in PA” and proposed legislation to improve the state’s economy

WHEN:          11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 8

WHERE:        The University of Scranton

Loyola Science Center

204 Monroe Ave.



Blake’s Job-Creating ‘Innovate in PA’ Bill Wins Unanimous Committee Support

HARRISBURG – June 20, 2013 – With the unanimous and bipartisan support of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. John Blake said his bill to create an early stage capital investment program of approximately $175 million is one step closer to becoming reality.

Senate Bill 456 would create the “Innovate in Pennsylvania” program and deliver desperately needed financing for new and growing businesses throughout the state.

The large-scale economic development program would make job-creating investments through the state’s economic development partners: Ben Franklin Technology Partners, venture investment partners, life science greenhouses, local development districts, industrial resource centers, small business development centers, and regional industrial development organizations.

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As it helps businesses become viable, Blake said “Innovate in Pennsylvania” will help to create jobs, something he said is critically important in Northeast Pennsylvania where the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has had the highest unemployment rate among the state’s 14 MSAs during the past three years.

The committee’s passage of the Innovate in Pennsylvania program Wednesday comes on the heels of the recent release by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of an independent, third-party impact report on the state’s economy. The study, released on the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Ben Franklin Technology Partnership, concluded that the organization produced 20,200 jobs in the commonwealth between 2007 through 2011 that otherwise would not have existed. Over the same five-year period, new state tax revenue generated because of the partnership represented a $3.60-to-$1 payback to the commonwealth on its $137.7 million investment.

Blake, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority would manage and invest a portion of the “Innovate in Pennsylvania” funds.

“‘Innovate in Pennsylvania’ will make a significant difference in the economic future of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Ken Okrepkie, regional manager, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Pocono Northeast. “Since 2009, because of state budget challenges, funding to Ben Franklin has been reduced by more than half. The consequences have been declining investments in promising high-tech start-up firms, and short-funding clients in which Ben Franklin does invest.

“With a return of $3.60 to the state treasury for every $1 of funding, Ben Franklin Technology Partners is an exceptional investment. ‘Innovate in Pennsylvania’ will help restore some of this crucial funding,” Okrepkie said.

Blake said Pennsylvania has been losing its reputation as a place that fosters new job creators as the commonwealth’s investment in early stage companies dramatically decreased from $53 million in 2008 to $14 million two years ago. That drop removed Pennsylvania from the National Venture Capital Association’s list of top-three states for business enterprise outlays.

“Pennsylvania lost ground nationally with regard to early stage investment,” the senator said. “‘Innovate in Pennsylvania’ will not only return the state to a more serious level as a supporter of business and job growth, it will return huge dividends for Pennsylvanians with new businesses, new products, new jobs, and new revenue.

“For every $1 Pennsylvania invests in early stage businesses, $2.37 will be returned to the commonwealth. That’s money well spent,” Blake said as he encouraged the full Senate to adopt the measure and send it to the House for its consideration.

The state is projected to realize a return on investment of more than $500 million in new revenue once “Innovate in Pennsylvania” comes to an end.

How it Works

“Innovate in Pennsylvania” will offer $225 million in deferred premium tax credits to qualified insurance companies that pay the state’s insurance premium tax.

For every $1 of tax credit offered, insurance providers will receive an up-front discount. The difference between the $225 million in tax credits offered and the potential $170 to $190 million in investment capital raised would be the discount offered to insurance companies that purchase the tax credits.

Investments received from participating insurance companies will be allocated to the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority and, subsequently, into private venture capital firms through its Venture Investment Program for market-based investment decisions, and through the Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) through the Partnership for Regional Economic Performance (PREP) program.

Forty percent of the net proceeds will be directed to the Ben Franklin Technology Partners to support its mission of statewide early stage investment.

“Let’s drive innovation in Pennsylvania and establish a predictable source of investment capital to grow small business and jobs in the commonwealth,” Blake said.