The Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA) has committed another $500,000 in Ignite Erie funds to help local startups and small manufacturers develop new products and grow their companies. Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA is matching ECGRA’s investment and together, the organizations are “RE-IGNITING” the Erie Innovation Fund.

“Those who are interested in applying for an Erie Innovation Fund investment, can phone Ben Franklin’s Erie office at 898-6650.” – Liz Wilson, Director of Marketing

Established by ECGRA and Ben Franklin as a public-private partnership, the Erie Innovation Fund provides local entrepreneurs and small, established manufacturers with access to capital to develop new products, start new tech-based companies, or gain access to a new market. To date, ten company projects have received an investment from the Erie Innovation Fund, which was originally seeded with $1.2 million from ECGRA and matched with an equal amount from Ben Franklin for a total pool of $2.4 million.

These innovative companies have developed products/services including software applications that automate medical billing processes, LED lighting assemblies, new allergy and psychiatric service delivery models, natural gas filtration systems, and even a ground-breaking new design for braking systems on large trucks.

Perry Wood, the Executive Director of ECGRA commented, “When we partnered with Ben Franklin three years ago, we increased the pool of risk capital available to Erie County tech-startups and small manufacturers. Today, we are proud of the products and services that were developed, in part, using gaming funds. We look forward to seeing how Ignite Erie will further grow our entrepreneurial support network while also fostering local technical and startup business talent.”

Ignite Erie is a three-part economic development strategy to create jobs, renew inner-city neighborhoods, inspire partnerships that serve entrepreneurs, and leverage private investments. To date, ECGRA has committed $4.4 million in Ignite Erie funds to inner-city small business development, industry + university collaborations, and mission-related investments.

Stephen Brawley, President & CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Partners added, “Partnering with ECGRA to create a pool of local capital that targets Erie County entrepreneurs and manufacturers has already helped several companies, in various stages of product development, begin to commercialize their efforts and hire additional employees – all without having to exert time and energy searching for capital outside of our area. While, asset-based lending is plentiful in Erie, historically there has been a shortage of risk capital. Since, most tech-startups have no assets to borrow against, access to risk capital is important to a community that wants to grow.”

About Ben Franklin Technology Partners:

Ben Franklin Technology Partners/CNP, an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, provides investment capital and operational assistance to emerging tech-based companies and small, existing manufacturers for the purpose of creating and retaining jobs in Pennsylvania. Contact the Erie office of Ben Franklin in Knowledge Park at (814) 898-6650 or see our website at www.cnp.benfranklin.org.

About the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority

An impact investor, ECGRA’s mission is to elevate Erie County by galvanizing non-profits and small businesses toward economic and community development. Since February 2008, ECGRA has invested more than $35 million in Erie County. Learn more at ECGRA.org, IgniteErie.org, or call 814-897-2690. ECGRA PR CONTACT: Amanda Burlingham – 814-504-3037, aburlingham1@neo.rr.com