Allentown Economic Development Corporation
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Monthly Archives: December 2015

AEDC Year in Review 2015

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.

 

Lending Programs

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.

 

Building Bridges

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.

 

Sharing Expertise

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.

Bridgeworks Enterprise Center 2015 Year in Review

In late October, the Pennsylvania Economic Development Association honored the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center as the 2015 Economic Development Program of the Year. As we look back over the past year, it is exciting to see everything that has gone on around the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center that has made this award possible. The list of accomplishments, for both our clients and us, is a testament to our mission of helping startup and early-stage manufacturing and technologies grow and become successful. Here are some highlights from 2015:

 

Architrep (KitRex)

The first of three new companies accepted into the business incubation program this year, Lisa Glover’s company, Architrep, which manufactures a flat-packed papercraft 3-D dinosaur line call KitRex was accepted into the program in January.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014 for her first product, Glover was able to take her Technical Entrepreneurship master degree project and launch it as a company. She because the first full-time resident in the new Flex Launch and Coworking Space at Bridgeworks. In March, Glover launched her second Kickstarter campaign.

 

The Colony Meadery

For The Colony Meadery, one word that can summarize 2015 is “growth.” At the start of the year, the company expanded its presence within the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center by absorbing the 2,000 square foot suite next door to their current location into their operations. In July, the company added a second location in downtown Bethlehem inside the historic Moravian Book Shop.

The Colony Meadery also marked success by winning five medals (two bronze, two silver, and one gold) at the Mazer Cup International Mead Competition; its first year competing on the mead industry’s biggest stage. This makes Colony Meadery one of only three meaderies to garner that many awards.

 

County Seat Spirits

The “grain-to-glass” micro-distillery marked their grand opening of its Bridgeworks operations in April. The 1,000-square-foot distillery performs the entire production process on-site, from milling raw grains, to mashing, fermenting, distilling and aging. County Seat Spirits currently offers vodka, rum, and gin and should have its first bourbons available in early-2016. In September, the company garnered some early success by winning the Washington Cup Bronze Medal for its Lock Keeper Gin.

 

JH Plastics LLC

JH Plastics, LLC teamed up with plastic manufacturer Vycom to donate a sculpture to the town of Jim Thorpe for its new “Fallen Soldier” sculpture at the town’s Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. The sculpture used Vycom’s Seaboard™ material, ensuring that it will be low-maintenance and withstand the elements long-term.

 

LightLab International Allentown LLC

The second new company to join the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in 2015 founders Mike Grather and Tracy Silvert had a busy year. After securing a $100,000 loan from the Enterprise Zone Revolving Loan Fund, the company worked diligently through the spring to fit-out their 3,200 square foot lab and office space. By mid-summer, LightLab International Allentown had fully installed its two primary pieces of test equipment with the fall seeing the lab secure is ISO certification and taking on its first customer work. The year culminated with the celebration of LightLab International Allentown’s grand opening in October.

 

MTS Ventures LLC

In 2015, MTS Ventures marked two major milestones: its 10-year anniversary and its graduation from the business incubation program. After seven years in the program, the company has reached the point of being self-sustaining and profitable – key milestones in the business incubation program. AEDC has teamed up with MTS Ventures to make the company its first anchor tenant in several years.

It has been a success year for the Clients of MTS Ventures as well. In July, MindBridge Innovations LLC was awarded a $35,000 investment from the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeast Pennsylvania in order to advance the development of its OrthoBike prototype. MTS helped with a significant redesign that made the bike more user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

 

Netizen Corporation

The last of the new recruits in 2015, the cyber security firm Netizen Corporation was accepted into the business incubation program in January. In June, the provider of cyber security solutions for government and commercial customers, Netizen was awarded a $514,000 contract for the Defense Logistics Agency in Puget Sound, WA.

By November, Netizen entered into a multi-university partnership, which included Lehigh University, to pilot a groundbreaking $12.2M Department of Energy (DOE) program.

Finally, in December, Lehigh Valley Business named the company Business of the Year in the Emerging Business category.

 

Business Incubation Program Improvements

We continue to make marked improvements to business incubation programming that we offer to our client companies. Early in the year, we added a Peer-to-Peer Mentoring program for our clients. Led by Stephani Olexa, a Bridgeworks Advisory Committee member and certified business coach, the program is designed to teach our entrepreneurs to work with each other in order to tackle challenges that arise as they work to grow their companies.

This year, we were also determined to completely rebuild our entrepreneurship education experience. Focusing on the rapid development of sales revenue, we introduced our Growing Your Business” series of sessions in September which continues through January 2016. The first four classes in the series focused on fulling understanding the market and the customer in order to build a successful brand and marketing strategy for a company.

 

Continued Investment in Infrastructure

Ensuring that our business incubation program continues to thrive into the future not only requires AEDC to continually improve its program offerings, it also requires continued investment in the physical assets of the center.

In 2015, we moved forward with Phase II of our rooftop replacement project. The overall project involves creating improved heating and cooling efficiencies for the entire building by replacing aged and inefficient roofing materials.

Phase I was partially funded by Economic Development Administration and Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants. The four-month project began in August 2013 during which time approximately 60 percent of the roof (1,440 linear feet) was replaced. The first phase of the project resulted in approximately 54 percent decrease in energy costs for the building. Phase II of the project, which replaced an additional 480 linear feet of the roof, began in late April 2015 and is expected to create additional energy savings while improving the marketability of the available spaces.

The second major project completed in 2015 was the relaunch of the Flex Launch and Coworking Space in November. Thanks in part to a $50,000 award from the SBA Growth Accelerator Challenge, AEDC renovated the coworking space and outdated offices to create a flexible launch pad space for technology-based companies.

 

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