Bridgeworks Enterprise Center
AEDC’s Bridgeworks Enterprise Center has been a proud member of the National Business Incubation Association since 1989.
Founded in 1989 in the refurbished former Mack Trucks Plant 4A, the 64,000 square-foot Bridgeworks Enterprise Center is the only business incubator in the Lehigh Valley dedicated primarily to manufacturing startups.
Though the focus is manufacturing, that does not preclude the inclusion of technology, since it has been incorporated into every aspect of the manufacturing process from design to automated robotics to marketing and sales. Bridgeworks Enterprise Center clients fall right in line with this trend, everything from “zero emission” fully electric trucks to sophisticated design engineering and rapid prototyping techniques.
The goal of the business incubation program at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center is to provide the resources to help startups move from the launch process to self-sustaining profitability, then to graduate them into the City of Allentown or into a suitable site within the greater Lehigh Valley.
Benefits of the business incubation program include:
- Shared conference rooms with conference call and video projection equipment available.
- Shared machine shop with a lathe, mill and drill press with tooling.
- Common area indoor loading dock capable of handling a 53-foot tractor trailer. A fork truck and several pallet jacks are available for shared use.
- Mentoring and advisory services from both AEDC staff members and a network of experienced and knowledgeable service professionals such as lawyers, accountants, consultants, angel investors, and others.
- Regular training sessions on pertinent topics relevant to a startup company.
Luminaire Testing Laboratories Inc. will become the next successful graduate of the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center when it moves into new, larger quarters under new ownership early next year.
Company President Mike Grather said Bridgeworks, the Lehigh Valley’s largest manufacturing incubator, played a critical role in LTL’s growth and success over the past 15 years, especially by providing the space needed as the company grew.
“It’s very difficult to find, as entrepreneurs, just the right amount of space,” Grather said, noting that many buildings in the region offer from 5,000 to 100,000 square feet – often too little or too much for a new business.
Bridgeworks, owned and operated by the Allentown Economic Development Corporation, allowed his company to acquire more space as it grew without overextending itself.
“That’s far and away the biggest way AEDC helped,” Grather continued. “The other thing is the proximity to people going through the same thing. There were a lot of 2 a.m. conversations going on in the hallways when we were here working through something and other entrepreneurs were doing the same thing with their businesses. One neighbor even helped us fill out some government grant forms.”