Corbett details Pennsylvania program to help fund small-business incubators
By Mike Wereschagin
Published: Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Don Charlton spent the Great Recession doing something strange: hiring.
A graduate of the second class at AlphaLab, a 5-year-old, 20-week program that helps accelerate the growth of start-ups, Charlton grew his software company from 35 customers to 2,000 in four of the toughest years the U.S. economy has seen in decades. Last year, The Resumator, software that helps companies recruit and hire, was used by the campaigns of both President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, as well as Major League Baseball.
During that span, state funding for the Ben Franklin Technology Partners — the parent of AlphaLab and similar organizations around the state — fell by more than half. Gov. Tom Corbett and leaders in the General Assembly said on Thursday during a visit to AlphaLab that they've found a way to reverse those cuts.
The state will auction $100 million in deferred tax credits for insurance companies early next year. The credits will lower the amount of sales tax insurers pay on policies. They can be claimed five years after purchase.
State Sen. John Blake, a Democrat from the Scranton area who wrote the bill, said he expects the auction will raise about $85 million.
Just over half that will go to Ben Franklin Technology Partners, a small-business incubator within the Department of Community and Economic Development. The remaining 45 percent will go into an investment fund run by venture capitalists, Blake said. Corbett signed the tax credit into law July 10.
The idea, Blake said, is that the money will help entrepreneurs start businesses, hire workers and make money so that by the time insurers claim deferrals, the taxes paid by those businesses will be twice what the state loses from credits.
The Innovate in PA tax credit will help add at least 1,850 direct jobs and 3,500 indirect jobs, Corbett said after touring several projects in AlphaLab's South Side office.
At one station, a brightly colored oval baby seat moved smoothly back and forth and up and down on a sleek, white, modernist base. 4Moms researchers came up with the motion by attaching accelerometers to mothers' backs as they soothed their babies. The meters measured their movement so 4Moms designers could replicate it with a two-axis robot and silent motor inside.
“It moves like you do,” said Henry Thorne, cofounder and chief technology officer of 4Moms.
The 4-year-old company sold 17,000 of the cradles last month. It has 100 employees and is hiring 100, Thorne said.
4Moms' power-folding stroller — which for $850 can charge its battery through smoothly-operating generators in the wheels and have enough juice to charge a cellphone via a plug in the handle — was bought by celebrities including Jennifer Garner and Natalie Portman. It sports four cupholders — two each for driver and passenger — and daytime running lights.
“Where were these when my kids were growing up?” Corbett said.
Mike Wereschagin is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7900 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- PNC posts 7 percent rise in 1Q profit
- Heinz offers Pittsburgh workers a buyout if they are unhappy
- Fed chair might push for stronger regulations
- Programs help to nudge unemployment among veterans downward
- Twitter buys data analytics partner
- Consumer price index up 0.2 percent in March
- Koppers to acquire 2 Buffalo-based Osmose units for $460M
- Google buys drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet
- Tobacco companies make payments under state settlement
- Recall puts GM sales under microscope