What Is It?
The Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) program is a statewide initiative to foster entrepreneurship in Pennsylvania. KIZs are special districts offering tax incentives to qualifying companies in targeted life science and technology sectors.
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What’s the Backstory?
The Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) program was established in 2004 as part of then-Governor Ed Rendell’s Economic Stimulus Plan. It was designed to address the lack of entrepreneurial activity (at the time) and encourage growth around Pennsylvania’s research and development clusters.
Originally, KIZs were established around institutions of higher education in both rural and urban regions. The intention as to utilize Pennsylvania’s institutions of higher education as economic drivers. There are currently 29 KIZs throughout Pennsylvania, that partner with over 91 institutions of higher education, ranging from universities to local community colleges.
Since its inception, the KIZ program has assisted in the creation of more than 9,000 jobs and leveraged more than $4 billion in funding.
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How does it work?
Eligible tech companies can earn up to $100,000 annually in sellable tax credits. Companies must be for-profit businesses in operation for less than eight years. Businesses must be focused on innovation in life sciences or technology and located within a KIZ in order to be eligible to receive the credits.
The credits have direct benefits for the awarded companies. As was the case of Arcweb, a digital product and design firm that is located in Old City, Philadelphia, some companies are able to add additional jobs (high-paying jobs, at that) in their city.
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Where are they?
There are 29 KIZs throughout the state, three of which are in Philadelphia: BioLaunch 611+, which spans from North and Northeast Philly, The Navy Yard and University City, which expanded to Old City in 2016. Click here to see a full map of KIZs throughout Pennsylvania.