In an era of technological advancement and economic transformation, Northcentral Pennsylvania finds itself at the forefront of a remarkable development. The North Central Regional Planning and Development Commission, based in Ridgway, PA, along with partners Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania, Penn State DuBois, and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, has secured a $400,000 Strategic Development Grant from the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) under its Regional Technology Hubs Program.
This achievement is part of a nationwide initiative by the U.S. Economic Development Administration that represents a forward-looking commitment to supercharging innovation across the nation, spurring cutting-edge technological investments, and creating 21st-century job opportunities. The program aims to invest in high-potential regions across the United States, empowering them with tools and resources to drive economic growth and transform them into innovation centers.
The grant awarded to the North Central Regional Planning and Development Commission is set to redefine the future of the Pressed Materials Industry within the Northcentral PA counties of Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, and McKean counties.
With only 29 Strategic Development Grants awarded across the entire United States, this achievement is a testament to the dedication and vision of the region’s stakeholders. This grant will play a pivotal role in shaping the future competitiveness of the Pressed Materials Industry, a sector steeped in history in the region dating back to the late 1800s.
The significance of this grant lies in its purpose – to craft a comprehensive plan with outcomes that will benefit the entire region:
- Market Research: The region has been globally recognized as the “Powder Metals Capital of the World” for decades, but it is also home to several carbon and ceramic-based pressed materials manufacturers, so the Consortium will focus on all three materials.
- Consortium Assessment: Analyzing consortium member companies to identify research and development strategies and foster innovation, enhancing their competitiveness.
- Workforce Development: Creating a strategy to develop skilled workers for the newly identified markets, exploring recruitment and retention initiatives, and fostering partnerships with other industries utilizing the local sectors’ materials and processes.
This initiative holds paramount importance as Pressed Materials manufacturing is not just integral to the region’s history but also a vital national player. With sixty-four direct Pressed Materials businesses in the area, representing 40% of all such companies in the United States, the industry’s significance is undeniable.
A Partnership for Progress
The achievement in securing a Strategic Development Grant is a testament to the collaborative efforts and the shared vision of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania, North Central Regional Planning and Development Commission, Penn State DuBois, The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, and other industry, university and workforce development partners. It’s a shining example of what can be achieved when communities come together on a common goal – to drive innovation and economic growth.
“This grant represents a pivotal moment for our region, where success is not just about individual achievements, but about supporting one another and collaborating on a common goal – driving the global competitiveness of the Pressed Materials Industry,” said Jim Chorney, Executive Director of the North Central Regional Planning and Development Commission. “Our commitment to fostering innovation and economic development through this achievement signifies the bright future we are collectively building for our region and the entire state of Pennsylvania.”
In this collective endeavor, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania played a convening role, drafting sections of the grant and providing in-kind support. Ben Franklin will continue supporting this grant by actively participating in the consortium’s planning efforts through the dedicated work of John Siggins, Regional Portfolio Manager, and John Sider, Vice President of Business Development.
This achievement aligns perfectly with Ben Franklin’s mission, which has a long history of supporting the Pressed Material industry through financing and technical assistance. This includes providing funding in the past to support Penn State’s Center for Innovative Sintered Products and hosting an Innovation Challenge that provided direct funding to regional powder metal companies, and more recently, providing multiple direct investments and grant funding to PM companies in the region.
John Sider, Vice President of Business Development at Ben Franklin CNP, shared his perspective, “Our partnership with the North Central Regional Planning and Development Commission and Penn State DuBois was pivotal. We worked as a united front, and it’s a reflection of the immense potential that collaboration holds in capturing national opportunities like this one.”
Ben Franklin as a Catalyst for Collaboration
Across the state, in the Greater Philadelphia Region, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA, was the lead applicant of a coalition to advance that region’s Precision Medicine cluster. This collaboration was the only EDA Technology Hub designation in Pennsylvania. This accomplishment highlights the Ben Franklin program’s statewide commitment to advancing Pennsylvania’s technological landscape through collaboration.
Pennsylvania’s EDA Tech Hub awards demonstrate the power of collaboration, the value of investing in innovation, and the promise of a brighter future for the Commonwealth and its leadership role in national competitiveness. It’s a testament to the potential unlocked when communities come together, forging a path towards shared economic growth and prosperity.