When Anthony Durante walked through the doors of Bridgeworks Enterprise Center more than seven years ago, the former Mack Trucks Plant 4A was half empty. Created as the home of a manufacturing business incubation program, it needed upgrading, repairs, development, and most importantly… clients. And in the more than 2,500 days since that first day of work, Bridgeworks Enterprise Center has gone through a complete turnaround.

Familiar with manufacturing but relatively new to business incubation, he was fresh off a stint with the Small Business Development Center at Kutztown University. Durante immediately began familiarizing himself with the clients already in the program, their different types of manufacturing, and business development for startups.

Durante is now taking the skills and knowledge he cultivated in this role to the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania where he will become the Manager of Entrepreneurial Support for Ben Franklin TechVentures, an award-winning, 129,000 square foot business technology incubator. He is already connected to Ben Franklin because Bridgeworks is a member of the Ben Franklin Business Incubator Network.

Highlights from his tenure at the helm of the program include:

  • An increase in Bridgeworks’ occupancy rate from 35 percent to 99 percent
  • Recruitment of several high-impact start-ups that propelled incubator revenues upwards by 138 percent
  • An Economic Development Program of the Year award from the PA Economic Development Association in 2015
  • Awarding of a $50,000 Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Challenge Grant for the renovation and expansion of the Flex Office & Coworking Space
  • An IMPACT Award for Bridgeworks from the International Business Innovation Association in 2018
  • Assisted with a significant capital improvement effort that transformed the 100-year-old former manufacturing plant into a flexible, functional, and energy-efficient facility
  • Establishment of a peer-to-peer mentoring group for Bridgeworks clients
  • Development of an Entrepreneur-in-Residence program to offer guidance to clients

He also earned a Business Incubation Management Certificate from the International Business Innovation Association.

“What makes me most proud is having the opportunity to help my neighbors launch and grow their businesses,” says Durante. “I live a block away from the owner of HiJinx Brewing, and less than a mile from the owners of MTS Design & Manufacture. I went to grad school with Greg from Colony Meadery and his partner Mike also lives about a mile from my house. Being able to directly help people in my community has been extremely rewarding. I am excited to be continuing that endeavor as I join Ben Franklin Technology Partners.”

“Ben Franklin Technology Partners is an outstanding organization and a logical next step for Anthony. We look forward to working with him as a partner to support the Lehigh Valley’s entrepreneurial community,” said Scott Unger, Executive Director of Allentown Economic Development Corporation.