PennTAP doubles economic impact in 2009

July 27, 2010

University Park, Pa. -- When two men from western Pennsylvania wanted to produce a premium vodka made from Pennsylvania potatoes, there were a few problems they needed to address. How would they compare sources of the starchy spuds and develop an efficient fermentation process? That’s when Prentiss Orr and Barry Young, founders of Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries in Glenshaw, Pa., near Pittsburgh, called on the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP) at Penn State.

PennTAP helped the entrepreneurs create a set of fermentation parameters that allowed them to take wholesale potatoes, at less than a dime a pound, and turn them into ingredients for Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka. Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries generated revenues of nearly $1.25 million, in Pennsylvania alone, in the 14 months since coming to PennTAP.

“PennTAP provided us with remarkable resources, and not only discovered sustainable sources for Pennsylvania-grown potatoes, but, once in hand, went the extra mile to prove for us a yet untried process of potato fermentation," said Prentiss Orr, chairman of Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries. "We owe 90 percent of our quality to PennTAP.”

According to its annual impact report, PennTAP provided 431 cases of technical assistance to clients across all 67 Pennsylvania counties in 2009. Also, clients reported more than $46 million in economic benefits and 477 jobs created or retained.

In 2008, clients reported just more than $23 million in economic impact.

"Our mission is to enable clients to succeed and thrive, stimulating economic growth for Pennsylvania, and we are proud that we were able to accomplish in 2009, despite the troubled economic times," said Wayne Figurelle, director of PennTAP.

Over the past five years, PennTAP has provided 2,831 cases of technical assistance to Commonwealth businesses, from finding sustainable alternative-energy solutions to increasing technological capabilities. During that time, clients have reported $223 million in economic benefits and 3,727 jobs created or retained in Pennsylvania.

Businesses interested in PennTAP assistance can call 814-865-0427 or go to online.

The Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP) engages, guides and empowers businesses and organizations throughout the Commonwealth and beyond by providing objective and experience-based technical and workforce solutions that enable clients to succeed and thrive, stimulating economic growth for Pennsylvania. PennTAP is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010