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Ben Franklin to Invest $292,260 in Regional Companies

BETHLEHEM, Pa., April 05, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- 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:

  1. developing and growing early-stage technology-oriented companies,
  2. helping established manufacturers creatively apply new technology and business practices to achieve industry leadership, and
  3. promoting an innovative community-wide infrastructure that fosters a favorable business environment for high-growth companies.

Since beginning operation, 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 $1.00 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, PA. BFTP/NEP also manages the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center in Bloomsburg.

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

American Paper Bag, LLC, Wilkes-Barre
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
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 paper bags are greener and provide users with many distinctive branding opportunities. Its proprietary manufacturing process and new shape gives APB a competitive advantage over other U.S. bag producers.

Columbia County Bread & Granola, www.columbiacountybread.com, Bloomsburg
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Finalize a sales and marketing strategy and implement a digital marketing campaign for this baker of sprouted grain foods that target health-conscious individuals and people with dietary constraints. There is surging market interest for the minimally processed foods that Columbia County Bread & Granola provides.

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

FMI, http://www.fragrancemfg.com, Allentown
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
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, www.interstatebldg.com, Pittston
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
Develop labor time standards that will allow the company to develop more accurate labor costing at this manufacturer of custom windows and doors made from vinyl and composites.

JSM, http://jetsonmarketing.com/, Kutztown
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
Increase productivity in the laser imaging department at this full-service marketing communications company. 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., www.spray-tek.com, Ben Franklin TechVentures®, Bethlehem
College Partner: Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technology Applications Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
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, www.unicastco.com, Boyertown
College Partner: Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technology Applications Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $17,260
Conduct 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, www.wacker.com, Allentown
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
Employ advanced analytics tools to create a predictive maintenance system to improve manufacturing operations at this producer of polymeric binders and additives. These products are used in a variety of products including paint, adhesives, and textiles. The predictive maintenance system will provide the company with significant savings.

Contact: Laura S. Eppler Director of Marketing Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania 610-758-5237 leppler@nep.benfranklin.org

Source: BenFranklin Technology PartnersofNortheastern Pennsylvania