Ben Franklin Board Approves Creation of Central Susquehanna Keystone Innovation Zone

Project involving Geisinger Health Ventures and Bloomsburg, Bucknell and Susquehanna Universities to establish new companies and create jobs, says Senator 

HARRISBURG – – The Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority today approved a $200,000 project to create a Keystone Innovation Zone in four Central Susquehanna Valley communities that will result in investment in technology companies and new jobs, according to State Sen. John R. Gordner (R-27), a member of the Authority.

Sen. Gordner, who spearheaded the project, said the Keystone Innovation Zone involves a partnership between Geisinger Health Ventures in Danville, along with Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, and Bloomsburg University and the Columbia Alliance for Economic Growth in Bloomsburg.

“Currently, there is no centralized entity to focus on developing technology and innovative products in our region,” said Sen. Gordner.  “By bringing together our regional institutions of higher education and health care services in a partnership with economic development enterprises, we can share knowledge and new ideas to provide opportunities for good paying technology jobs.”

Within one year, the Greater Susquehanna Keystone Innovation Zone expects to establish a minimum of three new companies to create at least eighteen new jobs.  Over the entire four year project, the GSKIZ will work to attract numerous other companies to the zone, further expanding high-tech employment opportunities in the Central Susquehanna Valley.

An important component of the project is utilization of the Technology Work Experience Internship Program, which was established by Act 34 of 2003, authored by Senator Gordner.

“At least five internships with the new startup companies or KIZ partner companies will be available for college students studying in technology fields,” said the Senator.  “This will help us to attract and keep an emerging young workforce that tends to migrate to metropolitan areas for these types of jobs.”

Each of the partners in the GSKIZ will focus on respective industry clusters that currently exist in their communities in efforts to spur new technology and entrepreneurial activity.

Wood products will be the primary focus at Susquehanna University and in Snyder County, where one out of every four jobs involves the production of wood products.

Information technology will be the focus of efforts in Montour and Columbia Counties, specifically through healthcare information technology advances at Geisinger Medical Center and instructional technology at Bloomsburg University.

Healthcare services that include biotechnology will be the focus at both Geisinger and Bucknell University.

Additionally, there will be a diversified manufacturing cluster that includes industries such as food processing, plastics and modular housing.

The Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority is one of the largest single state technology development programs in the nation.  The Authority has previously assisted about a dozen area firms with approximately $2.4 million in technology development grants.  Senator Gordner was appointed to the Authority by Senate President Pro Tempore Robert C. Jubelirer (R-30) for 2005-2006 and previously served on the Authority as a member of the State House of Representatives.

CONTACT:  Todd B. Roup (717) 787-8928