Allentown Economic Development Corporation

Monthly Archives: October 2014

SBA Prize Helps Bridgeworks Focus On Early Stage Technology Companies

Armed with a $50,000 prize from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Allentown Economic Development Corp. is making changes at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center aimed at attracting new and early stage tech companies that could ultimately make use of the building’s available manufacturing space.

The Growth Accelerator Fund award, announced Sept. 4, is one of 50 presented to incubators/accelerators in 31 states and is aimed at encouraging those programs “that are on the cutting edge of successful, innovative new endeavors,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “We’ve seen the enormous success of the accelerator model in communities like Silicon Valley. We believe we can export this type of sophisticated support structure across the country to help start-ups become commercially viable and create jobs more quickly. I want SBA to stand for ‘Smart, Bold and Accessible’ and these accelerators encompass all three of these goals.”

The winners were selected from a pool of more than 800 applicants by a panel of seven judges who are experts in entrepreneurship, investing and business plans both inside and out of the federal government, the SBA said. The judges reviewed the applications and pitch videos submitted by the 100 finalists in the competition.

Program Manager Anthony Durante said AEDC entered with a 15-slide Power Point presentation and followed up with a 5-minute video for the second round of judging.

“Going forward we are going to be actively recruiting early stage tech companies – companies we typically would not have considered or who were here operating on their own without any guidance and assistance that our program provides.,” Durante said. “The space will be more mission-focused now.

“Our goal is attract those startup companies that are operating in the gray areas between manufacturing and technology,” added Durante “Ideally, we can move them into our larger manufacturing spaces as they grow.”

Plans for the Bridgeworks renovations are already underway. The changes will bring a refit and rebranding to the suite of offices known as the Home Office Alternative, as well as the 5-year-old coworking space known as Hive 4A.

That means an overall renovation of the existing space into five larger offices furnished for two to five people, a bigger conference room and more common space that can be used by client companies. The new lease agreement will provide greater flexibility for these ventures to grow quickly without getting caught in the mire of real estate negotiations.

“Once we accept a client into the program for the new space, we envision the founding team taking one of the new offices as their primary space,” explains Durante. “As the company grows and hires additional employees, it can take on a dedicated desk space in the common area for a nominal additional fee set out up front. It makes things super simple – add a body, add a desk.”

The kitchenette and lounge areas of the current Hive 4A space will also be remodeled and expanded to provide more comfort, networking and discussion space for use among the various clients, Durante said. A limited amount of shared desk coworking space will be preserved, he added.

Finally, the access between the office suites and the common work area will be expanded to create a more connected feel.

“We want to give it a more modern industrial feel and we want to make it fun to work here,” Durante said.

Construction should begin as soon as the permits are approved, which Durante expects to happen by mid-November. The refurbished space should be open by mid-January, he said.

“We want to build a community here. We want to host companies that can grow and add employees over the years,” he said. “But we expect these companies will be a lot less capital-intensive than our traditional manufacturing clients.”

PRESS RELEASE: Allentown Meadery Continues to Rack Up Accolades

The Colony Meadery Wins Three Medals at Prestigious Michigan Mead Cup

Allentown, Pennsylvania – Over the weekend, The Colony Meadery took home three of the nine medals awarded in one of mead’s more competitive contests, the Michigan Mead Cup.

The Allentown meadery took home medals for:

  • 2nd Place in Traditional Meads for their Straight, No Chaser (made with orange blossom honey)
  • 2nd Place in Open Category Meads for Mo-Me-Doh (mead made with Mint and Lime)
  • 3rd Place in Open Category Meads for A Good Sarsaparilla (mead made with a traditional sarsaparilla recipe)

The Michigan Mead Cup is considered one of the most contested mead competitions, thanks to the many high-quality meaderies in Michigan, including the United States’ largest, B.Nektar. Combined with their haul in August’s New Hampshire-based Mead Free or Die competition, this brings the Colony Meadery’s total to nine medals in national mead competitions in their first year of operations, including at least one for each of their flagship meads.

“We knew this would be a challenging competition, so we’re very honored to see this strong a performance from our main products,” said Greg Heller-LaBelle, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Colony Meadery.

Setting up their operations last October at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, the business incubation program of Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), The Colony Meadery has established itself as a major player in the national mead industry, which grew 130% last year. Last week, they were also the subject of a feature in The Atlantic.

Mead is one of the oldest beverages in human history, dating back to both the ancient Egyptian and Viking societies. At its base, mead is made from fermented honey. Today, producers like The Colony Meadery often begin with basic mead and then add additional flavorings like fruit, coffee, hops, and spices. The result is a wide range of tasty beverages that find appeal across many palates.

“I’m really pleased to see that our flagship meads are performing so well in competitions.  Our flagship meads are all reasonably priced, and I am pleasantly surprised to see them doing so well in competitions,” said Mike Manning, Co-founder and Mead Maker of The Colony Meadery.

Since its launch, The Colony Meadery has steadily expanded its presence within eastern Pennsylvania at restaurants like Fegley’s Brew Works, Strange Brew Tavern and Hulmeville Inn. They also distribute mead to New Jersey with Hunterdon Brewing.

“The growth we are seeing with Colony Meadery, along with the accolades they are receiving for their meads is exciting,” said Anthony Durante, Program Manager for AEDC. “One of the challenges for the company is that they need to educate the consumer on what mead is. Wineries and breweries don’t have that hurdle. Greg and Mike are knocking it out of the park in regards to educating their customer base and growing their company.”

About The Colony Meadery

The Colony Meadery’s mission is to produce the boldest and most innovative meads in the world. We use experimental batches, modern methodology, and precise control of fermentation to create meads that are distinct and varied. We believe in uncompromising quality, flavor and craftsmanship. We are members of both the Brewers Association and the American Mead Makers Association.

For more information, please visit their website:


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 their website:

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