Ben Franklin announces latest round of regional investments

Last year Gilson Snow made skis and snowboards decorated with Transformers-themed art to commemorate the popular toys’ 35th anniversary. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania in Bethlehem has released its latest round of investments, with a lion’s share of the funds going to a Snyder County snowboard manufacturer.

Gilson snow, which manufactures innovative snowboard and skiing equipment, will use the $100,000 investment from BFTP to enhance its production capabilities and expand marketing efforts.

Ben Franklin is also making several investments in the form of 1:1 matching grants to a number of established manufacturers in its territory, so they can work with college or university partners on innovation.

Among them is American Polarizers Inc. of Reading, which will receive $24,800 to work with the Emerging Technology Applications Center at Northampton Community College to complete development of a process for vacuum lamination of circularly polarized films. The work is intended to expand the company’s product line in polarized and non-polarized optical products.

CarbonLITE of Muhlenberg Township will receive $25,000 to work with Lehigh University’s Center for Supply Chain Research to develop a standardized work process in a new plastic resin manufacturing facility.

Gateway Ticketing Systems of Colebrookdale Township will receive $25,000 to work with Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center to identify and implement best practices for its admission control and ticketing software.

Polytek Development Corp. of Williams Township will receive $7,000 to work with Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center to analyze its tooling board manufacturing process.

Sealstrip Corp. of Gilbertsville will receive $20,000 to work with Lehigh University’s Center for Supply Chain Research to implement new features in its shop floor management system.

Vastex International Inc. of Bethlehem will receive $25,000 to work with Lehigh University’s Center for Supply Chain Research to implement a new enterprise resource planning system.

BFTP/NEP owns, manages, and is headquartered in Ben Franklin TechVentures, a business incubator/post-incubator facility on Lehigh University’s campus in Bethlehem.

$80M recycling plant set to open in Berks County, could create more than 130 jobs

A manufacturer that recycles plastic bottles into new products will open early in 2020 in Berks County. (Thinkstock) –

CarbonLITE Holdings LLC, a California-based manufacturer, plans to open an $80 million, 270,000-square-foot recycling plant in Berks County early this year that should bring more than 130 jobs to the region.

The building on Route 61 in Muhlenberg Township, which is nearly complete, will be the company’s first in Pennsylvania and is part of Berks 61, a 19-acre business park at 4030 Pottsville Pike about five miles north of Reading.
CarbonLITE specializes in processing used plastic bottles into bottle-grade PET (polyethylene terephthalate) resin flakes and pellets that can be used to make plastic bottles and other products, according to its website. It expects to produce 85 million pounds of pellets annually at the Berks site.

CarbonLITE has recycling operations in California and Texas and the Berks site will be its largest.

Leon Farahnik, founder and CEO of CarbonLITE, said he hopes for the site to be to be operational by the end of February.

“We are installing all our recycling equipment right now,” Farahnik said. “We are hoping to start some gradual production.”

The company has already hired some employees and Farahnik said he chose the site because of the cooperation the company received from the municipality and The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance.

The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance worked with local economic development officials to attract the company to the site.

“I think as soon as they can start serving their customers from that facility they will be (operating,)” said Pamela Shupp, executive vice president and COO of The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance. “I think one of the things that we are really focused on is making sure that Berks County continues to be seen as a manufacturing hub in Eastern Pennsylvania. The location of this particular facility means that they have very ready access to the workforce of Berks County.”

“They made the decision pretty quickly to move forward with it,” Shupp said.

The company will bring more than 130 well-paying new jobs to the county, she said.

Endurance Real Estate Group and Brasler Properties served as the development partners at the site.