Allentown Economic Development Corporation

Monthly Archives: June 2014

Press Release: New Lehigh Valley Distillery Will Call Allentown Home

County Seat Spirits Accepted Into the AEDC Business Incubation Program

Allentown, Pennsylvania – The Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), following its June 19th Board of Directors meeting, announced that County Seat Spirits will join the business incubation program, housed at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, later this year.

“We are very excited to have the Lehigh Valley’s first distillery choose Allentown and the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center as the location to launch its venture,” said Scott Unger, Executive Director of AEDC. “Craft spirits fits perfectly in the niche we have developed, that includes a craft meadery, The Colony Meadery, and a microbrewery, HiJinx Brewing Company.”

Pennsylvania has a long history with distilling dating back to the Revolutionary War and earlier; however, all of the Commonwealth’s distilleries were wiped out during prohibition. In 2005, Philadelphia Distilling opened its doors, becoming the first distillery to open in the state since prohibition. A 2012 change in Pennsylvania law made it easier for distilleries to operate on a smaller level and since that time, a number of successful distilleries have been launched throughout Pennsylvania.

“John and I are very passionate about bringing high quality spirits to Allentown,” said County Seat Spirits cofounder Anthony Brichta. “The Lehigh Valley is already home to some of the region’s finest bars, restaurants, sports venues, attractions, and microbreweries. Yet, the Lehigh Valley doesn’t yet have a distillery to call its own. County Seat Spirits will fill that void.”

“The market for high quality spirits is strong and should remain so for the foreseeable future,” added John Rowe, County Seat’s other cofounder. “The timing is right for us to get established in a growing industry and to be part of the revival of craft distilling in Pennsylvania.”

AEDC will spend the next several years providing guidance and training opportunities to the founding team of County Seat Spirits, while plugging them into AEDC’s network of resources and advisors, in a concentrated effort to help them grow rapidly into a profitable and self-sustaining company.

“The choice of Bridgeworks is a great blend of affordable space, knowledgeable support, and the synergies of being among many other growing businesses,” said Rowe in regards to their choice of applying to the AEDC business incubation program. “The availability of a location like this allows us to put more energy and resources into making our business grow and thrive, and to provide the community with goods, employment and taxes.”

“We scouted a variety of locations in Pennsylvania but in the end, we always knew we would end up at home in the Lehigh Valley,” Brichta added. “Once we found the AEDC’s Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, it really became a no-brainer. We couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of working with The Colony Meadery and HiJinx Brewing to add the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center to the growing list of premier Lehigh Valley destinations.”

Rowe and Brichta will spend the next few months navigating the licensing process at both the federal and state levels, while purchasing equipment and fitting out their space at the center. County Seat Spirits plans to manufacture both aged and un-aged whiskeys, vodka, gin, and rum. There is also a plan to have a tasting room that is open to the public on weekends for spirit aficionados to tour the distillery and enjoy cocktails made with County Seat Spirits products.

“The alcoholic beverages industry is fraught with regulations that make it tough for small companies like County Seat Spirits to get up and running,” said Anthony Durante, Economic Development Specialist for AEDC who manages the business incubation program. “We are developing a nice niche as a business incubator knowledgeable with this industry. Ideally, we will be able to help County Seat Spirits navigate the regulations faster and more efficiently than if they were on their own. This way they can focus on growing the company and turning a profit.”

Over the course of its 25-year existence, the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, founded in the refurbished Mack Trucks Plant 4A in 1989, has helped launch more than 50 companies in Allentown that have created more than 300 jobs. Some of its current incubator clients include Gonzo Pockets, MTS Ventures and Zzyzx Polymers.

About the Allentown Economic Development Corporation

AEDC is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to a mission of identifying, encouraging, developing and managing strategic business opportunities for the benefit of Allentown, its citizens, and the Lehigh Valley. Its goal is to improve vacant and underutilized properties by assisting manufacturers, business owners and entrepreneurs in obtaining the resources and opportunities they require for success in the City of Allentown. AEDC offers access to financing and incentives, assistance with brownfield remediation, and support for growing businesses within the City.

For more information, please visit our website:

Lehigh Valley Business Incubators Share Expertise on an International Stage

Wayne Barz, Manager of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, and Anthony Durante, Manager of the Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, Allentown, co-presented at the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) 28th International Conference on Business Incubation. Their presentation, Innovative Ways to Involve Your Incubator in the Start-Up Community, addressed ways in which a business incubator can foster and encourage growth in the startup community by supporting the creation of a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Among the first business incubators nationwide, both TechVentures and Bridgeworks have doing this in the Lehigh Valley for decades.

“The successes that TechVentures and Bridgeworks have had, especially where they have integrated with local grassroots efforts, makes for a great story,” explained Durante, who proposed the session to conference organizers. “Collectively, our two business incubation programs have more than 60 years of expertise in the industry. It’s important for us to share our lessons learned with the greater business incubation community.”

Barz noted, “The Ben Franklin incubator program earned the 2001 NBIA Incubator of the Year Award, and won this same top worldwide incubator award again in 2012. As the leader of our 10-member Ben Franklin Business Incubator Network, we’ve worked to share and support NBIA incubation best practices throughout northeastern Pennsylvania.”

Barz Speaking 10-12

Barz and Durante addressed a variety of topics, including fostering university relationships, creating new ways to tailor business services within incubation programs and supporting such grassroots activities as tech meetups, hackathons, Startup Weekends, podcasts and coworking spaces.

The NBIA Conference was held May 18 through 21 in New Orleans. More than 600 business incubation and entrepreneur support professionals from more than 40 countries attended.

The session led by Barz and Durante was one of the first held at the conference. It was highly attended and very well-received by attendees.

“The session presented by AEDC and Ben Franklin TechVentures was exceptional,” said Rob Griffin, Executive Director of Adams Hub for Innovation, a new business incubator launching in Carson City, Nev. “It was by far the most informative and instructive session, providing best-practices strategies that our incubator can implement to foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem in our community.”

Krista Covey, Program Director of the SMARTStart Business Incubator in Dade City, Fla. added, “Anthony Durante and Wayne Barz were fantastic. The discussion about the importance of entrepreneurial-led programs being a catalyst for successful incubation programs was right on!”

Durante said he amazed by the positive response the session received.

“It was interesting to see how the things that we do here in the Lehigh Valley to grow our entrepreneurial ecosystem are considered very innovative to other communities,” he said. “Wayne and I are excited to share our stories and experiences at future events.”

About the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania creates and retains highly paid, sustainable jobs by linking early-stage technology-based firms and established manufacturers with experts, universities, funding, and other resources to help them prosper through innovation. It is part of an award-winning, four-center economic development initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners has returned $3.60 to the Pennsylvania treasury for every $1.00 invested in the program.

About Ben Franklin TechVentures

Ben Franklin TechVentures (BFTV) is an award-winning technology-based incubator/post incubator facility that is owned and managed by BFTP. BFTV provides resident companies with the support of an experienced incubator staff, the synergy of working in proximity to other early-stage companies, rental costs lower than market rates, flexible floor planning to accommodate specific needs, and access to Lehigh’s facilities, equipment, faculty, and student resources. These factors combine to greatly enhance incubator resident companies’ probability of success.

Just the Facts

Thirty early-stage firms, employing 171 people, are currently located in Ben Franklin TechVentures. Since 1983, the Ben Franklin Business Incubator/Ben Franklin TechVentures results include:

  • Graduated 55 successful companies
  • Incubator graduates grossed more than $984 million in annual revenue last year
  • Companies created more than 6,400 jobs

About the Allentown Economic Development Corporation

Allentown Economic Development Corporation is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to a mission of identifying, encouraging, developing and managing strategic business opportunities for the benefit of Allentown, its citizens, and the Lehigh Valley. Its goal is to improve vacant and underutilized properties by assisting manufacturers, business owners and entrepreneurs in obtaining the resources and opportunities they require for success in the City of Allentown. Its Bridgeworks Enterprise Center business incubator, established in a refurbished former Mack Trucks plant, has helped entrepreneurs launch more than 50 companies and created more than 450 jobs since its founding in 1989.

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