Allentown Economic Development Corporation
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Monthly Archives: June 2016

Allentown Enterprise Zone Awards Loan to Local Injection Molding Startup

Polymer Contours to utilize Enterprise Zone Loan program for equipment and growth

Allentown, Pennsylvania — The Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) announced today that it had provided a $47,900 loan to Polymer Contours Inc. through the Allentown Enterprise Zone Loan Revolving Loan Fund. Polymer Contours Inc. will use the loan to purchase new equipment that allows for the company to broaden its production capabilities. Additionally, the funds will be used to develop a marketing plan focused in capturing new customers in key industry sectors.

“The Enterprise Zone loan fund is another powerful tool in our economic development tool belt,” said AEDC Executive Director Scott Unger. “This program allows AEDC, City of Allentown, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to help finance the growth of manufacturers in our community that will drive job creation.”

The Enterprise Zone Revolving Loan Fund currently falls under the guidelines of the Pennsylvania Keystone Communities Program of the Department of Community and Economic Development. It is designed to provide funding and technical assistance for disadvantaged industrial/manufacturing and business sites.

The Allentown Enterprise Zone was established in the mid-1990’s. Designated sites across the city’s Enterprise Zone are almost exclusively industrial and manufacturing sites. The revolving loan fund was created through an initial $268,000 grant from the state. Over the years, the fund grew through interest paid on loans provided to companies in the Enterprise Zone. Today, the overall loan pool exceeds $980,000 with more than $637,000 currently leant out in 11 loans across the city.

Polymer Contours is a plastic injection molding company located in the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in south Allentown and participates in the business incubation program. Tyson Daniels, president, purchased the company from its original founder just 18 months ago and has been rapidly growing its capabilities and customer base.

“After personally funding the company, as well as reinvesting its current profits, it was time to take the next big leap forward,” explains Daniels. “The Enterprise Zone loan allows us to purchase a couple of key pieces of equipment in order to process a broader range of materials through our molding machines. We already have customers ready to sign new contracts with us once everything is in place and operational.”

The new equipment includes two plastic resin dryers that ensure there is no moisture present in the raw materials prior to entering the molding process. This improves the quality of the finished products, as well as allows Polymer Contours to use materials like polycarbonate, nylon, ABS, and PVC, that are more prone to absorbing moisture causing processing problems and product flaws.

Beyond equipment purchases, the remaining loan funds will be used to market Polymer Contours over the next several months.

“Tyson has been working closely with our advisers to craft a marketing plan that will allow him to accelerate the growth of the company,” said Anthony Durante, program manager for AEDC. “Over the next several months, our goal is to get that marketing message out to the world through the best channels so that it converts to sales for Polymer Contours.”

Polymer Contours specializes in helping companies to design products that fit their process rather than to fit their process around a generic off-the-shelf product. One example is a solder manufacturer that was using a generic spool in their packing process. The manufacturer dealt with several issues in trying to get the solder onto the spool and winding properly. Polymer Contours was able to evaluate the process, redesign the spool specifically for the manufacturer’s needs, and produce the spool a price that was competitive to what the manufacturer was paying for the off-the-shelf item.

“The client can now package their product with fewer quality issues and with improved throughput rates,” says Daniels. “That’s the advantage that Polymer Contours can provide its customers.”

 

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 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/

 

About Polymer Contours

Polymer Contours Inc. is a full-service plastic injection molding company that specializes in working with customers to produce parts that fit the specific business requirements. By utilizing our consultative tooling design process, customers no longer have to settle for subcomponents that are currently available on the market but fall short on meeting user specifications. Polymer Contours also incorporates its proprietary no money down tooling program in order to allow qualifying companies to offset their upfront costs for mold construction and setup fees. This combination of targeted product design and unique tooling payment options allows our customers to focus on growing their brand while saving time, controlling costs, and increasing profitability.

For more information, please visit http://polymercontours.com.

AEDC Incubator Clients Can Get Small Boost With Big Impact Thanks to New Microloan Fund

Business incubator clients at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in Allentown already receive great benefits designed to help them get a solid start. Assistance provided by the Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) includes organized peer mentoring groups, training sessions on a variety of topics relevant for startup companies, and the consulting services of the Entrepreneur-in-Residence. But the newest benefit can immediately impact their bottom line.

The Bridgeworks Enterprise Center Revolving Loan Fund is a microloan fund available specifically to incubator clients and provides a small, short-term loan of up to $10,000 at competitive interest rates for no more than 36 months or the remaining term of a client’s active lease.

The loan fund was made possible through a variety of AEDC’s sources including donations from graduates of the center’s incubation program. Current funds should allow the nonprofit organization to initially fund between three and five loans.

“Since most traditional lenders won’t finance smaller amounts, this simple revolving loan fund allows our clients to quickly access the funds they need for things like equipment purchases while also containing their closing costs,” said Bridgeworks Enterprise Center Program Manager Anthony Durante.

“Because we already have access to a client’s financial reports as part of the incubation program, we already have a good read on their ability to pay back the loan in the time provided. And in most cases we are able to expedite a loan request faster than a traditional bank.”

colony-meadery-bottlesThe new program’s first loan recipient was Colony Meadery, which used their funds to purchase new equipment for their successful mead-making startup. The loan allowed them to expand capacity during a traditionally slow time of year while maintaining their cash reserves. AEDC was able to turn around their application in less than two weeks.

“The microloan program is a great alternative to funding such purchases through a high-interest credit card or attempting to secure a line of credit, which is often difficult for a startup business to do,” Durante explained. “We’re excited for the big impact it can have on our clients’ growth.”

Former Klein Building to Rev Up Downtown Allentown Waterfront as Classic Car Showroom

One of downtown Allentown’s classic buildings along the waterfront is about to cruise into a new life in the coming year.

The former A&B Meats building at the base of the Hamilton Street Bridge will become the new home of RB Collection Restoration Center, a premier classic care restoration facility, showroom and office. Its location is synergistic to the America On Wheels museum of over-the-road transportation directly across the street built eight years ago, which is collaborating on the project.

New owners ACR Development received approval of the building’s sale from the Allentown Commercial and Industrial Development Authority in late May. They are planning to invest $2 million in renovations and will preserve as much of the building’s historic features as possible include the entire faced and overall architectural concept.

Known today as the Klein Building, the 13,650 square foot facility will be renovated to include space for 12 cars in the showroom on the building’s first floor and up to 15 cars in the restoration shop at the building’s rear, as well as office space. It will also include two retail spaces and seven residential luxury lofts with covered garage spaces.

Currently based in Breinigsville, RB Collection Restoration Center is co-founded by brothers Al and Alex Ruozzi. It restores classic cars, performs a range of maintenance services, and also buys, sells and trades classic vehicles. The business’ relocation to the larger, new facility will require the hiring of 10 to 15 additional staff members. Construction is scheduled to begin this fall.

Passion for Entrepreneurship at Core of Anthony Durante’s Work for AEDC

Anthony webFor some of us it can be tricky to pinpoint from where the inspiration came that got us into the line of work we choose. But for others, it’s much more apparent.

“I guess you could say that I come from a family of entrepreneurs,” he explained. “My grandfather owned a diner in City Island, NY; my uncle owned a contracting company; and my great uncle and his son owned a pharmacy. So I was around small business owners growing up and I think it influenced me more than I realized it did.”

For the past four years, Program Manager Anthony Durante has led the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center Business Incubation Program for the Allentown Economic Development Corporation. He manages the program’s day-to-day operations, bringing early-stage manufacturing companies into the former Mack Trucks plant to set up shop in order to launch and grow their companies.

In this line of work, it helps that Durante has a special place in his heart for entrepreneurs.

“When I was studying for my MBA at Lehigh University we had a guest speaker who was a venture capitalist investing in startup companies, and his presentation really inspired me to get involved in that line of work. I try to remain empathetic to entrepreneurs and what they have to deal with to start a business from scratch.”

For Bridgeworks, Durante identifies possible startup clients for the program and then begins an initial dialogue to gauge interest. If he and the business owners are on the same page, and if their business plan has potential, the entrepreneurs present their plan to the Bridgeworks Advisory Committee in order to be recommended. Once approved by the Board of Directors, the onboarding process begins. This includes leasing space inside Bridgeworks, fitting out that space, and eventually culminating in a grand opening. Most companies stay in the incubation program for 4-7 years. One client, MTS Ventures, even stayed on to become an anchor tenant at Bridgeworks after graduating from the business incubation program.

But just because a new client moves into Bridgeworks doesn’t mean Durante’s job is done. “That’s when we’re just getting started!” he commented. “We have a very hands-on relationship with our clients. We provide them with a mentorship program, assist them with planning, perform semi-annual reviews of their company, and much more. It’s our staff’s job to help make them as successful as they can be.”

Durante’s vision for the incubation program has included starting a peer-to-peer mentoring group for Bridgeworks clients last year and bringing the facility’s first Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Karen Campbell, on board this past January.

“I want to continue building our mentorship program,” Durante continued. “I want to cultivate more meaningful engagements between mentors and clients, as well as to help them make better strategic and tactical decisions. What we do for our clients and the services we offer to them has to have the highest impact on their businesses. It takes the efforts of the entire AEDC staff working closely together as a team in order to make all of this happen. We’re able to develop plans from different opinions and perspectives in order to have a positive impact on our clients’ growth, and thereby the economic development of the City of Allentown.”

When asked what his vision for Bridgeworks is in the coming years, Durante says, “I’d like to see us create a post-incubator space for our graduating clients and other Stage 2 companies ($2 million – $20 million in revenue). Having properly sized spaces for our clients to grow into and call home for the next several years is key to ensuring that they stay in Allentown and the Lehigh Valley.”

Bridgeworks Enterprise Center Launches Microloan Fund for Incubator Clients

New program provides small loans that make a big impact for startups

Allentown, Pennsylvania — The Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) announced the launch of a new microloan program specifically for business incubator clients in the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center. The first of these microloans will be provided to The Colony Meadery that will allow the company to purchase some key equipment to expand its operations.

“We are excited to be giving our incubator clients another tool for growth,” said AEDC Executive Director Scott Unger. “If our organization can provide a small, short-term loan that allows our client companies to make a big leap forward, everyone wins.”

The Bridgeworks Enterprise Center Revolving Loan Fund, as the microloan fund is formally entitled, is a simple revolving loan fund exclusively for business incubator clients to use for financing small projects that don’t make sense for traditional financing outlets. The application and documentation processes are kept simple in order to keep costs low to both AEDC and the client.

The microloan program lends a maximum of $10,000 at competitive interest rates and terms not exceeding 36 months or the remaining term of a client’s active lease. Closing costs are limited to out-of-pocket expenses to AEDC, such as filing fees and credit checks. Since AEDC already sees a company’s financial reports at several intervals over the course of a year, the staff already has a good sense as to whether or not the company can pay back the loan. This greatly expedites the approval process for the client.

“Basically, with some due diligence on our part and our Board of Director’s approval, we can have a check in our client’s hand in a very short amount of time,” explains Anthony Durante, program manager for AEDC.

The Colony Meadery got to see how quickly this process could be completed first hand. Between the simplified application, a good payment and performance track record in the incubator, and some fortuitous timing, the company went through the process, from application to funds received, in just ten business days.

“With the new microloan program for incubator clients, we are able to expand our capacity during one of our slower times of year,” said Greg Heller-LaBelle, chief executive of The Colony Meadery. “We can maintain our cash reserves and buy new equipment when it makes the most sense for us to install it. Then we will be ready with more products on the shelves during our busiest sales season.”

“Our microloan program is a great alternative funding source for our clients,” adds Durante. “Many of these companies are too new to secure a traditional line of credit through a bank and interest rates from most credit cards are very high. This program funds small project that can have a big impact on our client’s growth and we can do that with a simple process, low costs, and competitive rates and terms.”

AEDC was able to establish the loan fund using a variety of sources saved over several years, including donations from graduates of the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center. The initial loan funding should allow AEDC to provide three to five loans at the outset of the program.

 

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 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/

 

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 colonymeadery.com.

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