Allentown Economic Development Corporation
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Press Release: New Year – New Manufacturing Startups Calling Allentown Home

Three Early Stage Businesses to Join Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in 2014

Allentown, Pennsylvania – The Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), following its December 19th Board of Directors meeting, announced that three early stage manufacturing companies will join the business incubation program, housed at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, in early 2014.

“We are very excited to bring these companies into our business incubation program as we kick-off our 25th Silver Anniversary year,” said Scott Unger, Executive Director of AEDC. “These three diverse ventures have very promising business plans and represent the next generation of manufacturing for Allentown and the Lehigh Valley.”

The companies represent a wide range of manufacturing specialties.

Gonzo MeshGonzo Pockets manufactures specialized mesh for lacrosse stick heads using a proprietary rubberized coating. Brothers Lou and Desi Gonzalez, both highly successful and recognized collegiate lacrosse players, founded the company after being frustrated by products that were currently on the market. They teamed up with Naval Academy graduate and proven entrepreneur Tom Schmitt, who already had startup experience of his own, to get the Gonzo Mesh prototype finalized and distributed into more than 100 specialty lacrosse stores across the U.S. and Canada in just nine months. Gonzo Pockets will move into the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in January.

Tom explains, “Lacrosse players are passionate about getting any edge they can. Our mesh is one of those advantages. The lacrosse community has embraced us and we look forward to our local community sharing in our success as we expand. Collaborating with other entrepreneurs and having the wealth of manufacturing and business knowledge Bridgeworks provides at our fingertips is such a great opportunity for us. We are proud to be invited to join the Bridgeworks business community.”

Curt Keck Brewing HiJinx Brewing Company, currently based in South Whitehall Township, was literally started in a garage. By carefully complying with the township’s home-based business laws, founders Curt Keck and Chris Becker have been able to launch the nano-brewery and get their beers into more than a dozen Lehigh Valley bars and restaurants. In just over one year, Keck and Becker have squeezed everything they can out of their equipment and are unable to keep up with the demand for their beers. A new 10-barrel brewing system will be purchased and installed at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, fulfilling the founders’ lifelong dream of owning their own production brewery.

“We chose the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center because we feel that the resources provided, along with the access to professional guidance, will help us grow our business,” explained Keck. “The wisdom of seasoned business professionals will help us to avoid common pitfalls and unforeseen problems.

Zzyzx Polymers (pronounced ziz-icks), the third company to be joining the incubator, has secured exclusive rights to nearly 20 patents revolving around new technology to create plastic compounds. The founders have applied for funding from  Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania to further develop their revolutionary processes. The company’s goal is to commercialize its novel mixing technology to create plastics with unique properties that no one else can make. The company also hopes to disrupt the recycling industry by reusing plastics that today get sent to landfills by other waste management companies.

“When we started our company, we had a founder in Silicon Valley, one in Chicago and one in Pennsylvania,” explained Mike Janse, CEO of Zzyzx Polymers. “There were good reasons to establish manufacturing in any of those locations, but the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center and Ben Franklin Technology Partners program made Allentown an easy choice.”

“AEDC will spend the next several years providing mentorship and training to these companies in a concentrated effort to have them grow rapidly into profitable and self-sustaining organizations that are creating jobs for Lehigh Valley residents,” explained Anthony Durante, Economic Development Specialist at AEDC, who is responsible for the business incubation program.

“Our job is to recruit new ventures, help to grow them and then launch them back into the Lehigh Valley over a span of four to seven years so that we can do it again with another batch of startups,” said Durante. “If we, as a business incubator, do our jobs well, the incubator should be creating a steady stream of successful companies for the community.”

Over the course of its 25-year existence, the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center has done just that. Founded in the refurbished Mack Trucks Plant 4A in 1989, the business incubator has helped launch 44 companies in Allentown that have created more than 285 jobs. It is a member of the Ben Franklin Business Incubator Network. Today, some of its current incubator clients include ColdEdge Technologies, MTS Ventures and The Colony Meadery, its most recent addition.

About the Allentown Economic Development Corporation

AEDC is an independent 501(c)(3) 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.

Our 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.