Ben Franklin Goes to Harrisburg: Prolific Seed Fund Fighting for ‘Critical’ Funding

As a diplomat during the Revolutionary War, Benjamin Franklin spent two years in France trying to convince the French government to fund the American cause.

Now an organization that bears his name — and penchant for entrepreneurship — is firing up its own persistent fight for funding. This time, in Harrisburg.

Leaders from each of the four regional Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP) organizations testified for nearly two hours before a State Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing Thursday afternoon.

Their main argument? The roughly $14 million it would receive in the state’s proposed 2019-2020 budget, about the same as last year, is appreciated, but the sum is still just half of how much it received in past years. To take full advantage of the organization’s ability to boost the state’s economy, its leaders said, it needs more.

Scott Nissenbaum, the chief investment officer at Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, represented the Philadelphia region at the hearing. The funds spent on BFTP aren’t an expenditure, Nissenbaum said, they’re an investment, noting the state receives $3.90 for every $1 invested in BFTP.

“That is not an expensive line item, that is a revenue line item and we continue to achieve those metrics in terms of the companies we create, the jobs we create, and the wages that flow back to the state,” he told the committee.

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