Allentown Economic Development Corporation
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Monthly Archives: October 2018

AEDC Launches Sponsorship Drive

When the nonprofit Allentown Economic Development Corporation based its manufacturing-focused business incubator in a former Mack Trucks assembly plant nearly 30 years ago, it brought back to life a 62,501 sq. ft. vacant building that might have otherwise gone unused for decades. Since then, the business incubator has graduated 33 companies that have created more than 600 jobs.

Today this historic building hums with life from the startup manufacturers working in it as part of the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, as well as professionals in the Flex Office & Coworking space. But caring for such a large building that dates back to the early 1920s means a steady stream of maintenance and periodic upgrades to infrastructure.

AEDC has launched a Bridgeworks Sponsorship Drive to help raise some of the funds needed to supplement its annual capital improvement budget.

“In addition to the regular maintenance projects that we budget for like replacing HVAC systems and roof maintenance, there are several projects on our wish list that we’d like help raising the funds to cover,” said Scott Unger, AEDC Executive Director. “The most critical of these projects is to replace the building’s fire alarm and access systems which are projected to cost in excess of $70,000.”

Other projects include energy efficiency upgrades which would ultimately lead to lower operating costs. “We are also pursuing grant opportunities that will allow us to cover the cost of some of the larger projects,” Unger said.

Sponsorship levels include:

  • Office Sponsor – $1,250 (18 available)
  • Conference Room Sponsor – $3,500 (1 available)
  • Manufacturing Suite Sponsor – $5,000 (15 available)
  • Incubator Sponsor – $10,000 or more

Each sponsorship level comes with its own series of benefits.

An early sponsor supporting the drive is King, Spry, Herman, Freund & Faul LLC in Bethlehem. The law firm has donated $3,500 to help AEDC furnish a new six-person conference room, which includes the conference table, chairs, an LED display and conference phone. KingSpry had previously donated in support of a large conference room that was built in 2013.

“I have been an advocate and supporter of AEDC since its inception,” explained Jerome B. Frank, Esq., a senior member of KingSpry, who has served as an AEDC Board Member, volunteer President, acting President, acting Executive Director, Secretary, volunteer committee member, and general counsel.

“As a Founding member of the Bridgeworks Advisory Board, it is clear that the incubator is a vital source for startup businesses emerging from a person’s garage to a true business setting,” Frank continued. “Allowing businesses to function and grow, and then graduate to a facility within the city helps Allentown and its residents. It is good business for any business to assist others to grow, and KingSpry is proud to help AEDC promote business interests in the City of Allentown.”

To learn more about the AEDC Bridgeworks Sponsorship Drive, contact Scott Unger – sunger@allentownedc.com or 610-435-8890.

Affordable Office and Coworking Space Brings Entrepreneurs to Bridgeworks

You’ve started a business and have been working from home. That sounded like a good idea, and maybe it was… for the first few months. But now you’re finding out that working from home comes with its own set of distractions, and that meeting potential clients or customers at the nearest coffee shop isn’t always feasible. You’re now at the point where you need a professional presence for your business and for meetings, a home base each day that gets you out of the house and into a productive work environment, but you’re on a budget.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur who wants to stop working from home, a freelancer who floats between clients and jobs all day long, or a company employee who works remotely, the Flex Office & Coworking Space at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in South Allentown provides professionals with the affordable workspace they need in a shared office environment.

How it started

In the late 1990s, Allentown Economic Development Corporation opened the Home Office Alternative, which was developed during the early internet boom when entrepreneurs began developing concepts for a new business and working from home. Years later after visiting coworking spaces in other parts of the country for both ideas and inspiration, an updated incarnation of the concept, then known at Hive4A, was started. In 2014, thanks to a $50,000 Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Challenge Grant, the original Home Office Alternative and Hive4A areas were renovated into a modern industrial open office area consisting of 10 private offices and a 10-person conference room that opened into an updated coworking space with a kitchenette and lounge area.

Office Spaces

A 2-person unfurnished office starts at $325 a month. Rates increase from there for 3, 4, and 6-person offices. So as your new company takes off, there’s room to grow without having to move out of Bridgeworks. You’ll have 24/7 access to the building so you can work at whatever time is most convenient for you. All office renters have access to fiber optic internet, two conference rooms, a shared kitchenette, and a shared printer. Onsite parking is included in the monthly rent, which is a big cost saver compared to facilities located downtown. They can also use Bridgeworks as their business mailing address. Of the 10 offices in Bridgeworks, five are presently available for leasing.

Other benefits include the proximity to downtown Allentown (a 15-minute walk or 7-minute drive away); a modern industrial setting; and easy access to all points in the region on I-78 or major thoroughfares.

Coworking

Coworkers pay a flat fee of $60 a month for an unlimited amount of usage between 8 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday. The month-to-month agreement allows for flexibility as work needs change. Benefits are similar to those for office workers including access to the internet, shared printer/copier, conference rooms, and kitchenette and lounge area, plus two phone booths to take private calls. As mentioned above, onsite off-street parking is also included. The coworking space currently has 10-15 dedicated coworkers but has the capacity to handle many more.

“Everyone who takes the time to come into the building always leaves saying ‘Wow! I can’t believe how great this place is. I wouldn’t have imagined this being here,’” explained Program Manager Anthony Durante. “But what really hooks them is Friday happy hour. Our business incubation program just down the hall is home to a meadery, brewery, and distillery. What more could you ask for?”

Why is an office at Bridgeworks so great?

Let two of our clients tell you why.

Lori Blatt – BlattCom LLC

Blatt’s business works with B2B decision makers in the manufacturing and construction sectors to uncover their inside advantage and then builds a marketing plan around it as a blueprint to engage with their target audience.

“After 13 years of having a home office, I realized I was missing the structure and social aspect of going to the office. My office also has helped me have regular office hours, whereas working from home had become 24/7.”

“When I met with a client who is one of the anchor tenants at Bridgeworks, I was blown away at what I found inside this unassuming industrial building. The Flex Space has a creative industrial vibe that pays tribute to its history as Mack Trucks Plant #4A.”

“I think it’s an incredible value for any entrepreneur to build their business. You can choose from the open-concept coworking area, or one of the dedicated offices that surround the perimeter of the space. The amenities are fantastic, and the management and facilities team are wonderful to work with. Plus, in the past last two years that I’ve had my office here I have made business connections with others in the building.”

Jeffrey Anthony – Synaptic Consulting

Synaptic Consulting’s service portfolio spans Financial Technologies (FinTech), Data Analytics, Business Intelligence, Project Management, Product Development, Lean Manufacturing, Enterprise-Wide Cost Reduction, and a variety of C-Level Services. They deliver these services to clients via training, consulting, and business process outsourcing.

“Having founded the firm coming out of corporate backgrounds and being fortunate enough at the time to know that we’d be bringing a few Fortune 1000 companies into our client portfolio rather quickly, having an office at home was never an option for us. At the same time, being comprised largely of contract associates spanning the U.S. and the E.U., we didn’t need thousands of square feet of centralized office space in any single location either. So, the office space we’ve leased here at Bridgeworks, and the shared spaces such as the conference rooms, was exactly what we needed and when we needed it. We looked at several potential office locations in downtown Allentown, Center Valley, and Bethlehem, and it was clear that leasing office space at Bridgeworks was by far the best dollar-for-dollar value available anywhere in the Lehigh Valley.”

“Bridgeworks is a vibrant, top-notch facility where the value delivered to tenants far exceeds the cost. With numerous meeting rooms, soaring ceilings with plenty of natural light, open space, and extensive shared resources such as printing and internet service, Bridgeworks inspires big ideas and provides the environment that growing businesses need to see them through. Synaptic Consulting is proud to be headquartered in Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, proud to bring clients here, and we look forward to continuing our growth at Bridgeworks for many years to come.”

What’s it like to be a coworker?

We spoke with Gary Schall of TSD Enterprises LLC, a long-time Bridgeworks coworker about his experience.

TSD Enterprises LLC provides networking and training services to assist individuals and companies in getting better recognition when searching for a new job, a career change, or new clients. Clients include individuals in job transition, college students getting ready to join the workforce after graduation, and companies looking to add new clients or find other businesses to partner with.

“The primary reason for having an office outside the home is to offer a professional environment for meeting with my clients. The Flex Office & Coworking space at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center also provides access to both a 10-person and a 16-person conference room, allowing me to have a professional presentation venue complete with projector screens and large video displays. Public Wi-Fi allows my clients to access their own LinkedIn profiles, offering greater interaction with my clients during workshops.”

“The shared workspace allows me to interact with other businesses there, providing for greater networking opportunities. The open office design invites collaboration, and the two phone rooms offer areas for private conversations when needed. A quality laser printer gives me the ability to distribute better handouts and documents to my clients, and the conference rooms have amenities like conference calling, whiteboards, and large video displays.”

“Having a professional meeting space helps to establish you as a legitimate business. You’re not meeting on a kitchen table or in a noisy coffeehouse, but in an atmosphere that creates an air of knowledge and experience. The shared workspace allows you to interact with other professionals, share your expertise with others, and draw on the experience of others. AEDC offers support as well and does a fantastic job of maintaining the building and infrastructure. I look forward to heading into Bridgeworks every morning and talking with other business owners.”

This sounds great! How do I get a tour of Bridgeworks?

Anyone interested in taking an office tour or doing a complimentary coworking test day should contact Anthony Durante at 610-435-8890 or adurante@allentownedc.com.

 

 

PPL Provides Foundation Grant to Support Economic Development

AEDC receives $5,000 from PPL to support program activities

Allentown, Pa. — October 15, 2018 — The Allentown Economic Development Corporation has received a $5,000 contribution to support its economic development programs from the PPL Foundation.

PPL Electric Utilities Regional Affairs Director Carol Obando-Derstine (c) with AEDC Executive Director Scott Unger (l) and Program Manager Anthony Durante (r).

“We appreciate the continued support of the AEDC mission by the PPL Foundation,” said Executive Director Scott Unger. “It is clear that PPL understands the importance of the role that economic development plays in growing the manufacturing sector here in Allentown and across the Lehigh Valley.”

AEDC’s nonprofit mission is divided into three primary activities: industrial property redevelopment and management, business incubation, and business retention and expansion. Through its efforts, AEDC has returned more than 30 acres worth of vacant or underutilized properties back onto the tax rolls of the city, reducing blight and creating local manufacturing jobs in the heart of Pennsylvania’s third-largest city. Currently, AEDC owns, operates, or manages 62 acres of property with over 1.7 million square feet of building space.

Over its 29-year existence, the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, founded in the refurbished Mack Trucks Plant 4A in 1989, has helped launch more than 61 companies in Allentown that have created more than 618 jobs. Today, ten early-stage manufacturing companies call the AEDC business incubator home, along with several microbusinesses and independent professionals who occupy the building’s Flex Office & Coworking space.

The business retention and expansion programs of AEDC are aimed at ensuring that the existing manufacturing companies in Allentown have the resources they need and an advocate representing their interests across the various organizations and service providers in the region. AEDC manages $3.655 million in funding across four loan programs on behalf of the city: the Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Authority, Enterprise Zone, Allentown Development Company, and the City of Allentown Economic Development revolving loan funds. Additionally, AEDC staff members visit several manufacturing companies each year as a means of “keeping a finger on the pulse” of what’s happening in the local economy.

“At PPL, we firmly believe in the importance of investing in economic development. It is part of our larger commitment to improving the communities where our customers and employees live and work,” said Carol Obando-Derstine, PPL Electric Utilities Regional Affairs Director.

 

About Allentown Economic Development Corporation

Allentown Economic Development Corporation is an independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve vacant and underutilized properties within the City of Allentown in order to create an environment where manufacturers and other companies can flourish throughout their lifecycle, from launch to rapid growth, and on to long-term success and profitability. By doing so, AEDC can advance the economic vitality of Allentown and the Lehigh Valley through job creation and business growth.

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

 

About the PPL Foundation

Through strategic partnerships, the PPL Foundation will support organizations that are working to create vibrant, sustainable communities and empowering each citizen to fulfill her or his potential. The PPL Foundation contributes more than $2 million annually to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit www.pplcares.com

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