Ben Franklin Board Approves Additional Funding for Greater Susquehanna Keystone Innovation Zone

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

HARRISBURG – – The Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority today approved  $150,000 in funding for the Greater Susquehanna Keystone Innovation Zone that will result in continued 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.  In 2005, the GSKIZ received initial start up funding of $200,000 from the Ben Franklin Authority.

“Since the approval in 2005, the GSKIZ has met its goals of assisting in the establishment of three new companies and the creation of 18 new jobs,” said Senator Gordner.  “With the approval of new funds, the KIZ expects to be able to expand its scope to attract at least two more companies and create at least 10 new jobs, further expanding high-technology 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.

“During the first phase of the project, three internships with the new startup companies or KIZ partner companies were made available for college students studying in technology fields,” said the Senator.  “Five more of these internships will be a part of the new phase and 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 focuses on respective industry clusters that currently exist in their communities in efforts to spur new technology and entrepreneurial activity.

Wood products is 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 is 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.