Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern PA to invest $292,260 in regional companies

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The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors has approved the investment of $292,260 in support of regional economic development. BFTP/NEP’s goal is to help lead northeastern Pennsylvania to a better economic future by building partnerships that develop and apply technology for competitive advantage. To achieve this goal, Ben Franklin staff concentrate their efforts on three key areas: developing and growing early-stage technology-oriented companies; helping established manufacturers creatively apply new technology and business practices to achieve industry leadership; and promoting an innovative community-wide infrastructure that fosters a favorable business environment for high-growth companies.

Since its founding, BFTP/NEP has helped to create 16,986 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 23,761 existing jobs, to start 482 new companies, and to develop 1,433 new products and processes. Since 2007, BFTP/NEP clients have generated $1.4243 billion in follow-on funding. The Pennsylvania Ben Franklin Technology Partners network has returned $3.60 to the state treasury for every $1 invested in the program. Ben Franklin Technology Partners is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.

BFTP/NEP owns, manages, and is headquartered in Ben Franklin TechVentures, an award-winning business incubator/post-incubator facility on Lehigh University‘s campus in Bethlehem. BFTP/NEP also manages the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center in Bloomsburg.

Ben Franklin announces the following early-stage company investments provided in the form of loans with warrants.

American Paper Bag, LLC, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
The funds will support marketing and sales efforts at this producer of customizable and environmentally friendly paper bags. Currently, most retail carrier bags in the U.S. are plastic and produced in China. APB’s bags are greener and provide users with many distinctive branding opportunities. The company’s proprietary manufacturing process and new shape gives APB a competitive advantage over other U.S. bag producers.

Columbia County Bread & Granola, Bloomsburg, Columbia County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
This investment will help the company finalize a sales and marketing strategy, and implement a digital marketing campaign for their sprouted grain foods targeting health-conscious individuals and people with dietary constraints. There is surging market interest in the minimally processed foods that Columbia County Bread & Granola provides.

Ben Franklin announces the following established manufacturer company investments — the organization provides 1:1 matching funding for work with a college or university partner on technology-based manufacturing innovation in established manufacturers.

FMI, Allentown, Lehigh County
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

The funds will help upgrade FMI’s Enterprise Resource Planning system to accommodate growth so the company can operate more efficiently and access new opportunities with larger customers. FMI provides contract manufacturing for a wide range of clients in the skin care, personal care, hair care and pet care markets.

Interstate Building Materials, Pittston, Luzerne County
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

The investment will enable this company — a manufacturer of custom windows and doors made from vinyl and composites — to develop labor time standards and more accurate labor costing.

JSM, Kutztown, Berks County
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

The funding will help this full-service marketing communications company increase productivity in their laser imaging department. The work will enhance manufacturing and technology processes designed to improve quality and customer return on investment in various print and mail campaigns.

Spray-Tek, Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
College Partner: Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technology Applications Center BenFranklin Investment: $25,000
The investment will enable complete development of a new encapsulation process at this provider of contract spray-drying for consumer goods companies. Spray drying transforms liquid suspensions into a free-flowing, ultra-fine powder by drying with a hot gas in less than 20 seconds. The method is utilized in the production of many thermally sensitive materials such as foods and pharmaceuticals.

Unicast Company, Boyertown, Berks County
College Partner: Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technology Applications Center BenFranklin Investment: $17,260
The funding will support an energy assessment of the entire operation at this custom manufacturer of grey iron castings and provide environmental assistance. Energy is a significant cost for foundries, so energy reduction and other cost savings measures will help Unicast to remain globally competitive.

Wacker Chemical Corporation, Allentown, Lehigh County
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

Thanks to the investment, this producer of polymeric binders and additives will employ advanced analytics tools to create a predictive maintenance system to improve manufacturing operations. These products are used in a variety of goods including paint, adhesives, and textiles. The predictive maintenance system will provide the company with significant savings.

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Region: Northeast

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