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Giant opens beer & wine eatery in Hazleton

GIANT Food Stores recently opened its 87th Beer & Wine Eatery in Pennsylvania at its Hazleton store, 70 S. Locust St. The store celebrated the grand opening with beer and wine tastings.

Hazleton customers will find hundreds of domestic, imported and craft beers coupled with an immense wine selection in the Beer & Wine Eatery. Customers currently have a “mix-a-six” option where they can create their own six-packs from a variety of craft beers. Customers can also choose from eat-in and take-out selections offered, including sandwiches, wraps, subs and salads.

New escape room open in the Poconos

People can step into the mental dungeons of Trap Door Escape Room and challenge themselves both physically and mentally in this real-life gaming experience in Bartonsville.

The first theme coming to the location is “Cure Z.” This two-hour, zombie apocalypse escape features more than 10 rooms of puzzles to solve with multiple objectives and a deep backstory.

Real-life room escape games are a type of physical adventure game in which people are locked in a room with other participants and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles, find clues and escape the room within a set time limit.

Trap Door Escape Room blends the original escape room puzzle-solving concept with suspense-driven stories, large movie-quality sets and special effects and some immersive theatre.

For more information, visit trapdoorescape.com,

trapdoorevents.com or facebook.com/trapdoorescape.

Entech opens new office in Hawley

Entech Engineering, Inc. recently announced the opening of a Hawley satellite office. The new Hawley

office is Entech’s seventh office in Pennsylvania.

It is located at 8 Silk Mill Drive, Suite 211 in the historic, repurposed Hawley Silk Mill building.

Long time senior project manager, Doug Berg, PE, who recently returned to Entech, will serve as the office manager.

Entech has additional satellite offices in Lititz, Mountaintop, Pittsburgh, Pottsville and State College, in addition to its corporate headquarters in Reading.

Ben Franklin to invest $220,000 in regional economy

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors approved the investment of $220,000 in support of regional economic development. BFTP/NEP recently announced the following early-stage company investments that are provided in the form of loans with warrants.

■ Ethnic Beauty Store, LLC, East Stroudsburg University Innovation Center, East Stroudsburg, Monroe County

Ben Franklin Investment: $65,000

Expand retail distribution of Ethnic Beauty Store’s proprietary Game Face Grooming product line and boost corresponding marketing efforts. The line is currently comprised of four extra-large-sized wipes, targeted to men who are seeking skincare products that are simple to use. The wipes are fully biodegradable/compostable, have 98.5% natural ingredients and are made in the U.S.

■ Skillion, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County

Ben Franklin Investment: $40,000

Complete development of Skillion’s mobile app for remotely monitoring and controlling an electronic bike (e-bike) to prevent theft and/or manage e-bike rentals. Both the American and European e-bike markets are expected to grow significantly over the next five years, particularly in urban centers, creating the need for technology to support the sector.

Ben Franklin announced the following established manufacturer company investments. Ben Franklin provides 1:1 matching funding for work with a college or university partner on technology-based manufacturing innovation in established manufacturers.

■ C. F. Martin & Company, Inc., Nazareth, Northampton County

Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center

Improve the accuracy of sales forecasting by applying advanced analytics to internal sales data and integrating external econometric, manufacturing and government research. C. F. Martin designs and manufactures premium stringed musical instruments and musical instrument strings. Enhanced demand forecasting will lead to increased sales and improved operational planning.

■ East Coast Erosion Control, Bernsville, Berks County

Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center

Improve back-end processes to enhance customer delivery performance, reduce cost-of-goods sold, increase efficiency and maximize production capacity at this manufacturer of erosion control products, turf reinforcement mats and hydro-mulches for the construction industry. East Coast Erosion is one of the largest producers of erosion blankets and other erosion products in the U.S. This upgrade will provide a competitive advantage and facilitate continued growth.

■ Lamtec Corporation, Mt. Bethel, Northampton County

Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center

Complete the design of a new material handling system and take necessary steps to improve the company’s manufacturing changeover process. Lamtec is a global supplier of insulation vapor retarders and facings to leading manufacturers, laminators, and fabricators of fiberglass, rock wool, foam board and tape.

■ Material Solution Services, Northampton, Northampton County

Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center

Complete the formulation of new composite materials that can be used for general fill in land development, construction material and mine reclamation. The composites will recycle various waste products in conjunction with a binding agent to reclaim abandoned sites for safe and productive reuse.

■ Mt. Everetts Frozen Creations, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County

Ben Franklin Investment: $15,000

University Partner: Wilkes University

Complete the design and layout of new manufacturing space for the production of proprietary new Italian ice, ice cream and other frozen desserts. The design plan will address current and future capacity requirements.

Study: Ben Franklin grew Pennsylvania’s economy by $4.1 billion, created 11,407 jobs from 2012-2016

With a focus on startups and innovation, Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP) remains a powerful job creation and high-tech economic development engine for Pennsylvania, according to the latest independent economic analysis of the organization. But state funding shortfalls are starting to curtail the partners’ ability to fund companies appropriately, creating missed opportunities.

An in-depth analysis from two nonpartisan research organizations, The Pennsylvania Economy League and KLIOS Consulting, found that Ben Franklin helped to create 11,407 high-paying jobs, generated $386 million in tax receipts for the state, and boosted the commonwealth’s overall economy by $4.1 billion between 2012 and 2016.

Every dollar invested by the state into Ben Franklin generates $3.90 in additional state taxes, the analysis found.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners serves all 67 counties through four regionally based centers. Each center is united by a single mission – to invest in early-stage innovation-led firms and to develop and support a more competitive and attractive Pennsylvania economy that creates highly paid, sustainable jobs. The partners also work with the state’s manufacturers to help them apply product and process innovations that enable them to be more internationally competitive.

According to the analysis, “The Economic Impact of Ben Franklin Technology Partners,” which represents the fifth in a series and covers the period from 2012 to 2016:

■ Ben Franklin invested in 560 companies across the commonwealth.

■ These investments generated 4,182 jobs in client firms, plus an additional 7,225 spinoff positions for a total of 11,407 new Pennsylvania jobs.

■ That helped to boost Pennsylvania’s economy (Gross State Product) by $4.1 billion.

■ Among the reasons for the large impact on the state’s GSP is that these jobs are in industries that pay annual salaries of $79,364 per year, or 52 percent higher than the average private nonfarm salary in Pennsylvania.

■ Pennsylvania received $350 million in additional state tax receipts as a direct result of Ben Franklin investments in client firms. Another $36 million in state tax receipts flowed from related BFTP client services, for a total of $386 million in state revenue due to Ben Franklin.

Since its inception, Ben Franklin has invested in more than 4,500 technology-based companies and boosted the state economy by more than $25 billion, helping to generate 148,000 jobs through investments in client firms and spinoffs companies in Pennsylvania.

The findings of this analysis come at a critical time for Ben Franklin.

Not only is competition fierce with other states launching and investing in their own high-tech economic development programs, but state funding for Ben Franklin Technology Partners has declined sharply over the years.

Since 2007-08, state funding for Ben Franklin has dropped more than 50 percent, from roughly $28 million to $14 million per year. Because of diminished state funding, Ben Franklin, which relies on state funding, already has been unable to invest in some deserving companies and has seriously short-funded others. Efforts to bring new customers and product innovations to small manufacturers also are hurt.

Still, the Ben Franklin program is among the most widely known and emulated state technology-based economic development programs in the nation, supporting fledgling enterprises at their most vulnerable point – the early stages of commercialization and market development.

Ben Franklin clients come from a variety of industries – from computer software, hardware and telecommunications firms to a variety of fabricated metal and industrial machinery manufacturers to life science companies, including pharmaceutical manufacturers, biotech firms, instrumentation, robotics and medical device companies.

The clients in these industries are innovative and technology-intensive, investing in research and development, intellectual property, capital equipment and highly skilled labor.

The full study is available at benfranklin.org. For more information about Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, visit nep.benfranklin.org.

Evergreen Companies, Inc. announces corporate name change to Evercor Facility Management

Evergreen Companies, Inc., a facility maintenance firm headquartered in Northeast Pennsylvania for more than 20 years, has assumed the new corporate identity Evercor Facility Management.

The company’s rebranding is a key component of its corporate strategic plan for growth, reflecting the organization’s expansion in market share and service sectors.

The rollout of the new branding initiative includes the corporate name change from Evergreen Companies, Inc., to Evercor Facility Management, and a new brand identity marketing awareness campaign including launch of a new corporate website. The name “Evercor” pays homage to “Evergreen,” whose rich heritage will always remain the “cor” (heart in Latin) of its origin.

The rebranding will not affect any current or future projects, and the company will continue to operate under its current structure without change in ownership, leadership and staff.

Evercor has branch locations in Lehigh Valley, Lancaster and Mechanicsburg.

For more information, visit Evercor.com.

Shark Tank’s newest shark to speak at chamber dinner

Matt Higgins, the newest shark on ABC’s hit show, “Shark Tank,” and vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins, will be the keynote speaker at the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce’s 151st Annual Dinner, sponsored by PNC Bank.

Before appearing on the tenth season of Shark Tank, Higgins made his career as the co-founder of RSE Ventures, a private investment firm headquartered in New York City that focuses on sports and entertainment, media and marketing, food and lifestyle and technology.

As vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins, Higgins has focused on bringing major sports and entertainment events to South Florida, while building leading sports enterprises at RSE from the ground up. As soccer was finally hitting its stride in the U.S., RSE launched the International Champions Cup, now the largest privately-owned soccer tournament, drawing the top international teams and more than 140 million viewers.

RSE also anticipated the emergence of recreational drone racing and backed the launch of the Drone Racing League, which has become the top drone racing circuit.

Higgins has supported many socially driven organizations, working most closely with Autism Speaks and the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as a founding board member. He also serves on the boards of Momofuku, Milk Bar, VaynerMedia, Bluestone Lane, RESY and has been named a top 40 executive in New York and one of the most outstanding executives in sports.

This year’s annual dinner will be held on Thursday, March 28, from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel in Scranton.

Tickets are available at scrantonchamber.com.