Pennsylvania’s sitting governor and two of his predecessors praised a technology-focused investment capital organization Monday for 30 years of sparking business and innovation in the Keystone State.
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett offered introductory remarks before former GOP governors Tom Ridge and Dick Thornburgh engaged in a conversation about the Ben Franklin Technology Partners initiative as part of a panel conducted at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.
Since it’s creation under Thornburgh in 1983, the initiative has contributed significantly to the economic strength of the commonwealth.
According to the partnership, it has boosted the state economy by more than $23 billion since 1989, and has generated some 7,485 jobs between 2007-2011.
“Everybody wants a winner and this program has proven to be a winner,” said Ridge.
He argued that one of it’s strength is its’ local focus.
“There’s something very appealing for community leaders and job creators to be able to control the destiny I their own communities and in their own regions,” Ridge added. “The fact that you don’t have it being run out of Washington, D.C. or Harrisburg, Pa. you drive it down to the communities where the entrepreneurs are.”
Thornburgh, wearing a Ben Franklin tie and natty matching red sox, argued for the program to receive greater funding, even though Corbett significantly cut funding when he came into office.
“There’s no question that the cut made, the 50 percent cut, three years ago sent a very negative message,” he said. “Granted, times are tough and it’s difficult to get full funding for any program, but it’s a prioritizing process and I believe that the number one priority in this state today, as it has been for the last 30 years, is to create future-oriented jobs for people who are trained and educated in schools, colleges, and universities that make a contribution to the overall national economy.”