Central PA has all the Resources, Assets, and Talent Necessary to Support Emerging World-Class Startups.
For the past fifteen years, I’ve had the privilege of leading the largest early-stage investor group in the region, Ben Franklin Technology Partners. Our particular Center covers a 32-county footprint in the Commonwealth that naturally includes Central Pennsylvania. During my tenure as President and CEO, I’ve had the opportunity to meet first-hand hundreds of tech-entrepreneurs who not only call our region home, but also chose to start their businesses here. In my opinion, they certainly made the right decision! We all know that Central PA has a much lower cost of living compared to the cities on either coast, commute times that can be measured in minutes and not hours, weather patterns that rarely rise to the level of an emergency, and a workforce that has been educated and trained at some of the best colleges and universities in the country. But, we have something else . . .
Regardless of the city you visit – whether it’s Harrisburg, Lancaster, or York, you will find excellent co-working spaces, Small Business Development Centers, accelerator programs, incubators, investors, lenders, business mentors, and cutting edge university research and entrepreneurial programs. It’s no wonder that a few weeks ago, nine of the most innovative startup companies in Central PA, including five members of Ben Franklin’s portfolio, had the opportunity to showcase their company’s technology during Revolution Venture’s RISE OF THE REST® Pitch Competition with AOL founder Steve Case and a panel of all-star judges.
For those who missed this exciting news, Revolution’s RISE OF THE REST® competition is a nationwide effort that recognized early on that high-growth potential companies don’t have to be located on the east or west coast. Typically, visiting larger cities such as Pittsburgh, Denver, and Phoenix in search of the best new start-ups, this year they included stops in Harrisburg, Lancaster, and York.
The final pitch event, held at the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center, drew a standing room only crowd of not just the family and friends of the finalists, but those from all over the region who have been championing their efforts right from the start. When the winner, who started her company in York County, was announced, we couldn’t have been more pleased. Madris Tomes with Device Events has been part of our Ben Franklin family since last July.
The Rise of the Rest competition was a great opportunity for not only the entrepreneurs in Central PA, but also for the cities and counties that make up the region as a whole. The old adage, “We are better together”, has never been truer. The individual parts of our ecosystems that support entrepreneurs in Harrisburg, Lancaster, and York are turning into a cohesive economic engine – the sound of which can be heard all the way to either coast.