Allentown Economic Development Corporation
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Monthly Archives: March 2016

PRESS RELEASE: Economic Impact of Bridgeworks Enterprise Center Reaches New Heights in 2015

Annual incubator impact survey shows significant increase in client revenues and job creation

Allentown, Pa. – The Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) announced the aggregated results of its annual Incubator Client Impact Survey today. In 2015, the 11 Bridgeworks client companies earned over $4.1 million in revenue, more than doubling the $1.92 million the companies earned in 2012. The results from the 2015 survey are the best that AEDC has seen since it started gathering this data in 2012.

The employment numbers for the Bridgeworks client companies is equally impressive. Collectively, the companies employ 26 full-time employees and another 39 people as either part-time or contracted employees. More than $1.12 million was paid in total salaries, wages and contractor fees to these employees. This marks a 50 percent increase in the number of people employed by incubator clients from 2013 to 2015, and an 84 percent increase in wages paid out to employees over the same time frame.

“We are very excited to see that our Bridgeworks clients are growing their businesses year after year. It’s a testament to the success of our program,” said Anthony Durante, Program Manager of AEDC. “Helping new companies launch and grow so that they can create livable wage jobs is a critical aspect of the mission of AEDC and the business incubator. Ultimately, it creates a better quality of life for citizens of Allentown and the Lehigh Valley.”

This annual survey of the client companies participating in the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center business incubator program gathers important data on job creation, company revenues, and obtained loans, grants and equity investments. That data is aggregated into a report that demonstrates the economic impact that the incubator has upon the Allentown and Lehigh Valley communities.

“As with any organization, especially a nonprofit like ours, being able to clearly demonstrate to stakeholders like our board of directors, community partners and financial supporters that AEDC is accomplishing the goals of its mission is vital,” explains Executive Director Scott Unger. “Measuring the economic impact of the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center is a very important activity each year. With the data we’ve collected this year, we are pleased with how well the business incubator is performing.”

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.

Over the course of its 27-year existence, the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, founded in the refurbished Mack Trucks Plant 4A in 1989, has helped launch more than 70 companies in Allentown that have created more than 300 jobs. It is a member of the Ben Franklin Business Incubator Network. Today, the Center is home to Architrep, ColdEdge Technologies, The Colony Meadery, County Seat Spirits, HiJinx Brewing Company, JH Plastics, LightLab International Allentown, MTS Ventures, Polymer Contours and Zzyzx Polymers.

For more information, please visit our website: http://allentownedc.com/

SBA launches new programs to help lenders and small business owners connect

If the first quarter of 2016 is any indication of the year ahead, then it looks like it’s going to be a banner year for small businesses. Lending through the Small Business Administration is up 72 percent during first quarter 2016 compared to first quarter 2015.

Shannon Degiglio

“The uptick in the economy has lead to 23 more SBA 7A-backed loans already this year in the Lehigh Valley,” said Shannon Degiglio, Lender Relations and Economic Development Specialist for the Eastern PA District Office. “And that increase is also due in large part to several new programs that the SBA has rolled out in the past six months that are helping borrowers access the funds they need to start, grow and expand their business.”

SBAOne – anyone who has applied for an SBA loan knows that the process wasn’t perfect. “Technology has been a struggle for us. Old computers and an old system made it hard for borrowers to communicate with lenders,” said Degiglio. “There was lots of paperwork and lots of steps that slowed things down.”

A new centralized system called SBAOne that was rolled out last fall puts everything lenders need in one platform. The online application streamlines the process, leaving less room for errors and thereby fewer mistakes.

“Lenders love it!” Degiglio continued. “The feedback we’re receiving is that they find it easier to use, and we’re seeing more loan applications as a result. SBAOne allows lenders to verify all the pieces of an application online and in real time. Plus if a lender encounters a problem with an application, SBA representatives can go into it online to assist.”

SBA LINC – this new online referral tool allows small business borrowers to connect directly with SBA-approved lenders.

“A borrower fills out a short online questionnaire with a summary of the terms of financing, loan type, and amount which is then sent out to all lenders in the immediate area,” explained Degiglio. “If a lender is interested in the referral, the borrower’s contact information is then provided. It’s more efficient and takes a lot of guesswork out of the process.”

SBA Business Smart Toolkit – Similar to the existing “Start Your Business” classes, this three-module course for small business owners and entrepreneurs delves deeper into important topics such as how to write a business plan, financing options, preparing a loan application, and resources available in the community.

The three 60-90 minute modules focus on:
1. Ready – Basics of Business startup
2. Set – Essentials of becoming credit-ready
3. Go – How and where to find additional small business support and educational resources.

Two courses have already been scheduled in the Lehigh Valley:
• Tuesday, April 19 from 9 am – noon at the Lehighton Area Chamber of Commerce office
• Wednesday, April 20 from 9 am – noon at the Nazareth Center for the Arts

Summit Highlights Resources Available to Lehigh Valley Manufacturers

This is a guest post by Colin McEvoy, Director of Communications for LVEDC. The post also appears on the LVEDC website blog here.

Colin-McEvoy-headshot

There are a lot of resources out there for Lehigh Valley manufacturers trying to grow or expand in the region, including various loans, grants, tax credits, and technical assistance programs.

Those resources were highlighted by the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce‘s Manufacturing Council Summit held on March 3, which was titled – appropriately enough – “Show Me the Money: Financial Resources for Manufacturers.”

About 200 people attended the event at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, which included a keynote speaker from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), as well as a panel discussion of Lehigh Valley manufacturers about the resources they’ve used to finance upgrades and expansion projects.

The panel discussion was moderated by John Kingsley, Vice President of Finance for the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), and included panelists Gary Bender, co-owner of SISD Inc. and former CEO of ABEC; Steve Follett, president, CEO and chairman of Follett Corp.; Rich Hooper, CFO of Follett Corp.; and Daniel Loikits, chairman of Dynalene Inc.

Hooper identified several resources Follett utilized in its $7.9 million expansion project. This included a $1.9 million Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) loan, $2.2 million in Pennsylvania Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund (MELF) financing, job creation tax credits, and others.

“If you’re creating jobs, there is some kind of program out there for you,” Hooper said. “All the people involved in economic development want to help. Whether at the county, the local level, LVEDC, or the state, just let them know what you’re doing and they will work with you to help meet your needs.”

Bender discussed several of the Lehigh Valley resources that have been beneficial to SISD, including the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board’s CareerLink center, and the Manufacturers Resource Center.

“All these partners are very accessible, and if you don’t understand this stuff, reach out to them, because they’re happy to help,” Bender said.

CareerLink can assist with job postings and job fairs, the hiring process, training, and such programs as “Hire a Vet” and the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program at Northampton Community College, Bender said. MRC can assist with expense reductions and research tax credits, and helped ABEC take advantage of $7 million in tax credits, he said.

Sherri Collins, the DCED’s deputy secretary for the office of technology and innovation, delivered a keynote speech at the event. She discussed how the state helps attract manufacturers to the Lehigh Valley, including through collaboration with groups like LVEDC and the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

LVEDC and DCED have long enjoyed a beneficial partnership. Last summer, representatives from both offices embarked on a business development tour through Western Europe. Several manufacturers from overseas have established facilities in the Lehigh Valley in recent years, including Fuling Plastics (China) and Nihon Kohden (Japan).

After the manufacturing summit program, several organizations and advisers were available during a reception to provide additional information, including LVEDC, MRC, LVWIB, Ben Franklin, the Allentown Economic Development Corporation, and the Lehigh Valley Lending Network.

TD Bank was the presenting sponsor for the event, and Capital BlueCross was the corporate sponsor. Concannon Miller served as the gold sponsor, with Freshpet as a silver sponsor, and Arbor Insurance Group and Boyle Construction Management as bronze sponsors. EBC Printing was the event’s printing sponsor.

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