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Ben Franklin to Invest $651,600 In Regional Economic Development


The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors has approved the investment of $651,600 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 16,600 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 22,958 existing jobs, to start 470 new companies, and to develop 1,356 new products and processes. BFTP/NEP clients have generated $1.357 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 and manages Ben Franklin TechVentures®, an award-winning business incubator/post-incubator facility on Lehigh University’s campus in Bethlehem at which it is headquartered. BFTP/NEP also manages the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center in Bloomsburg.

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

ChannelApe, Jessup, Lackawanna County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Begin marketing and sales efforts to launch a software platform for e-commerce store owners. ChannelApe offers a Software-as-a-Service cloud-based platform that helps e-commerce stores automate and integrate their redundant inventory, order, and fulfillment management tasks. The product connects associated channels across numerous platforms into a single point of access.

EggZack, Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $88,000
Enable EggZack to build local audiences of consumers for its small business customers by automating and optimizing their social media. EggZack provides an automated sales and marketing system that is specially designed for companies that serve local markets. The web- and mobile-based platform systematizes the management of clients’ websites, search engine optimization, social media, local search, email marketing, blogs, video, and directory optimization to generate more local leads. The system then makes it convenient for leads to be converted into sales.

Gecco, Inc, Fleetville, Lackawanna County
Ben Franklin Investment: $18,600
Evaluate the current corporate structure and develop a strategic business plan for continued growth at this manufacturer of a patented siphoning system. The product removes residual water and odor problems for contractor repairs and change-outs in fire sprinkler systems, process piping, boilers, heat exchangers, and chiller repairs, thereby increasing productivity. Gecco has a market presence in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Orbweaver Sourcing, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Complete the addition of direct purchase order automation into Orbweaver’s proprietary cloud-based software platform for electronic circuit board manufacturers. Current sourcing and procurement models in the electronics manufacturing industry are highly inefficient. Orbweaver’s solution allows for more well-negotiated terms with suppliers, thereby reducing costs and increasing productivity for clients.

PayrollCRM, LLC, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Expand marketing and technical development of PayrollCRM, a sales automation platform for the payroll and HR services industry. PayrollCRM helps payroll/HR firms to sell faster and to onboard new clients more efficiently. PayrollCRM 's customer management and CPQ (configure, price, quote) tools streamline processes such as pricing, quoting, data collection, forms and signatures.

US Specialty Formulations, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Support needed increase in production capacity by hiring a production technician and quality compliance professional. USSF manufactures sterile injectable pharmaceuticals used by health care providers. Millions of Americans require specialized and custom-manufactured drugs, and the current infrastructure is insufficient to support their therapies. As an FDA-registered outsourced manufacturer, USSF employs advanced quality and manufacturing controls to provide cGMP-manufactured drugs for patients worldwide.

viihealth, Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $120,000
Provide marketing support and produce software enhancements for a cloud-based platform that allows pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers to seamlessly implement turnkey, tailored patient engagement support initiatives at a lower cost and with faster turnaround. Research shows that there is substantial patient non-compliance with prescriptions. An increased emphasis on outcomes-based health care will encourage health care providers to help patients adhere to their drug regimens through this mobile-enabled platform.

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.

Bosch Rexroth Corporation, Bethlehem, Northampton County
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
Develop and implement a process to automate data collection that will drive process improvements and enable predictive maintenance for machining centers throughout the company. Bosch Rexroth manufactures motion control equipment, including hydraulic and pneumatic components.

Prizer-Painter Stove Works, Inc., Reading, Berks County
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
Improve factory flow and efficiencies at a new building purchased by Prizer-Painter Stove Works to accommodate rapid increases in demand. Prizer-Painter Stove Works manufactures high-end cooking equipment under brands like BlueStar, Prizer Hoods and Big Chill.

Simplex Homes, Inc., Scranton, Lackawanna County
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
Complete the implementation of AutoCAD 3D and map, analyze, and further automate and improve current production processes to increase throughput. Simplex is a regional leader in high-quality modular home construction and is positioning itself as an industry-leading builder of energy efficient homes. The company built a prototype Net Zero house that is both environmentally friendly and economically prudent for homeowners.