Schweiker Administration Announces More Than $3.7 Million for Five Technology Projects Funds Will Strive to Increase Technology-Based Economy Throughout Commonwealth



    HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- On behalf of Pennsylvania Gov.
 Mark Schweiker, Community and Economic Development Acting Secretary Tim
 McNulty today announced more than $3.7 million in Ben Franklin Technology
 Development Authority (BFTDA) funding for five technology projects in
 Pennsylvania.
     "Pennsylvania is poised on the cutting edge of technological research and
 development," Acting Secretary McNulty said.  "Investments such as the
 projects funded through the BFTDA provide a new and vital vehicle for
 investing in economic, community and university-based innovation, ensuring
 that Pennsylvania continues to be a major player in the technology
 revolution."
     BFTDA is a $54.3 million initiative, providing state-of-the-art financing
 targeting technology company growth.  The BFTDA investment funds flexible
 financing and investment opportunities designed to meet the needs of
 technology-oriented businesses and are adaptable to the newly developed
 business structures evolving in the new technology economy.
     BFTDA funding supports the four regional Ben Franklin Technology Partners,
 which are dedicated to strengthening the Commonwealth's economy by fostering
 technology innovation and creating and retaining high-wage, high-skilled jobs.
     The BFTDA funding also supports the Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse, the
 NanoManufacturing Partnership (State College), the NanoTechnology Initiative
 (Southeast) and the Center for Optical Technologies (Lehigh).
     During the past four years, BFTDA has provided funding for 39 Technology
 Development Grants encompassing e-commerce, workforce training and community
 access and 26 Direct Company and Venture Capital Fund Investments, impacting
 more than 57,000 citizens, 11,500 businesses and creating more than 600 jobs.
     Since 1995, Pennsylvania families and employers have saved $19 billion
 through tax cuts, workers' compensation reform, reduced red tape and electric
 deregulation.  These savings have helped to create nearly 500,000 new jobs.
     The following projects were approved:
 
     The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania were
 approved for a $2 million investment to create the Ben Franklin Investment
 Partners, which will be used as a loan guarantee for investors and a $260,000
 operational grant over two years, to promote increased investment by
 accredited private investors in early stage technology companies in
 southeastern Pennsylvania.  Industry targets will include, but are not limited
 to: communications, business services, information technologies, electronics,
 life sciences, medical devices and services, advanced manufacturing and
 advanced materials.
 
     The DuBois Regional Medical Center, DuBois, in partnership with the Elk
 Regional Health Center and Clearfield Hospital, was awarded an $80,000 grant
 to aid in the creation of the Collaborative Teleradiology Network between the
 DuBois Regional Medical Center, Elk Regional Health Center and Clearfield
 Hospital.  Teleradiology will expand the radiological services and coverage at
 the partnering hospitals through its 24-hour-a-day availability, allowing area
 radiologists to integrate their services to care for more patients, while
 eliminating the need to expend travel time.
 
     Murex Investment Inc., a SBA New Markets Venture Capital fund located in
 Philadelphia, was approved for a $1 million investment over two years to
 develop the Murex Investments Inc. L.P., designed to increase technology in
 distressed areas, Keystone Opportunity Zones and technology incubators
 throughout a 15-county region in the Northeast and Southeast regions of the
 state, and the Lehigh Valley.
 
     61C Networks Inc., a Pittsburgh based information-technology company,
 received approval for the disbursement of a $250,000 investment by the BFTDA
 Board.  61C Networks has developed technology that analyzes available routes
 on the Internet and redirects traffic to use only the highest-performing
 routes, offering telecom services at Internet prices.
 
     The North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development
 Commission was approved for a $135,000 grant to develop the North Central Six-
 County Telecom Infrastructure Development Project, which will assist in the
 construction of a public fiber optic system between St. Mary's and Ridgeway.
 This project, originated through the Key-Net Alliance, a public/private
 partnership between the Commonwealth and Adelphia Business Solutions (ABS),
 will be matched by $135,000 from ABS and $135,000 from the local development
 district/federal contribution.  The fiber optic system will bring bandwidth on
 demand to a six-county wireless Local Area Network (LAN) and will serve to
 further deployment of broadband connectivity to school districts, municipal
 governments, business/industrial parks and private sector businesses within a
 six-county region, including Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean and
 Potter counties.
 
     CONTACT:  Megan Wolff Galko of Pennsylvania Department of Community and
 Economic Development, +1-717-783-1132.
 
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development

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