As we look back over the past year, we’re excited to see the accomplishments made by our clients and of the progress made with several of our programs and projects. Here are some highlights from 2015:
Business Outreach Program
The Business Outreach Program, a refreshed version of the Business Retention and Expansion Program, is a statewide initiative run regionally by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation. Its goal is to help local businesses navigate the regulatory landscape and find the resources they need to thrive. AEDC spent much of 2015 reaching out to Allentown companies to see how they are doing and offering assistance. More than 20 visits have been completed since July.
The Business Outreach Program also enables AEDC to work with companies to improve communication with local and regional economic development organizations, make referrals, and provide resources. It can also help provide an early warning in case a company is in danger of closing or moving from the city or the Lehigh Valley.
Allentown Metal Works
Phase I of remediation at the site was completed in April, and in October AEDC and the City of Allentown received $400,000 in supplemental funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fund the second phase of remediation.
Phase II, which is tentatively scheduled to begin before the end of 2015.
In addition to the EPA funds, AEDC will contribute $55,380 to the second phase of the project, and the City of Allentown will provide $25,000 in personnel costs.
In addition to the loan provided to LightLab International Allentown (see our other article), AEDC provided an Enterprise Zone Revolving Loan Fund loan to Terra Group, a manufacturer of water purification systems for the military. This loan will allow the company to purchase equipment to streamline their manufacturing process, in turn creating two new positions within the company.
Over the course of 2015, we had the chance to host special events at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center that allow us to continually broaden our connections with the local community and its elected officials.
In March, State Representative Peter Schweyer hosted his House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on jobs.
U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent made several visits to AEDC, including a trip in May where he met with four early-stage manufacturing companies in the business incubation program. In July, Congressman Dent hosted the Summer of Encore Entrepreneurship. This event allowed for semi-retired professionals, ages 50 and older, that had an interest in starting a new business to learn more about the resources available to them.
In November, Mayor Pawlowski treated the Mayor of Bialystok, Poland and his staff to a tour of the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center to that they could learn more about how business incubation is done in the manufacturing sector. Also in November, AEDC teamed up with the GLVCC Young Professionals Council to host the “Invent and Ferment” networking event at Bridgeworks.
Over the course of the year, AEDC has been invited to share its expertise with other industry professionals.
In April, Program Manager Anthony Durante shared the story of how the organization rebuilt its business incubation program from the ground up with a group of over 50 professionals at the National Business Incubation Association’s (NBIA) Annual Conference in Denver. The 75-minute session, entitled “Rebuilding the Zombie Incubator: Breathing Life Back into a Struggling Business Incubation Program” was among five selected as “Best in Show” at this year’s conference.
Executive Director Scott Unger, along with Durante, was afforded the opportunity sit on a “best practices” panel discussion at the Pennsylvania Economic Development Association’s 2015 Fall Conference. The panelists discussed best practices around manufacturing and economic development in Pennsylvania.
Durante also participated in a webinar offered by the Northeast Economic Development Association. The November session, entitled “Trends in Manufacturing” covered a variety of topics including reshoring manufacturers, business incubation programs, and assisting small manufacturers to continue growing.