SBA Growth Accelerator Award Project Ready to Launch

Allentown, Pennsylvania — On Friday, November 13th, the Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) will formally open its Flex Launch & Coworking space at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in south Allentown. The opening marks the culmination of the project that won the 2014 Growth Accelerator Challenge put on by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“The Growth Accelerator Fund competition was designed to empower accelerators and startups on the cutting edge of innovation. The Bridgeworks Enterprise Center’s Flex Launch and Coworking Space is an example of that innovation, providing small businesses with flexibility and room to grow. The Lehigh Valley is gaining a tremendous resource and I look forward to seeing successful small businesses emerge from the Bridgeworks program,” said Michael Kane, Deputy District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Eastern Pennsylvania District Office.

The opening festivities will include a full day of free coworking for anyone interested in exploring the coworking experience firsthand. AEDC will be serving snacks and beverages to everyone in attendance. At 10:00am there will be a short ceremony to mark the opening of the finished space. During lunch, speakers will be featured, including representatives AEDC and Lehigh Valley SCORE talking about their respective programs. Additionally, Chris Kauzmann of Lehigh University’s Baker Institute of Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation will deliver a keynote discussing the ideation process of entrepreneurship. The day will wrap up with a Bridgeworks Happy Hour event exclusive for those in attendance where coworkers and guests will have the chance to meet clients of the business incubator and learn more about the program from those operating inside of it. Beverages from The Colony Meadery, HiJinx Brewing Company and County Seat Spirits will be featured at the happy hour.

“We are looking forward to having a full day of activities for everyone to enjoy,” says Anthony Durante, Program Manager for AEDC. “We think the Flex Launch & Coworking space is unique in the Lehigh Valley and has a lot to offer both tech entrepreneurs and independent professionals alike.”

In the summer of 2014, AEDC applied for the SBA Growth Accelerator Challenge after DeSales University intern Vincent Daily brought the competition to Durante’s attention. Daily and Durante submitted a 15-slide PowerPoint presentation for the first round of judging. After successfully clearing the first hurdle, AEDC submitted a 5-minute video pitch for the project that was almost entirely scripted, filmed and edited by Daily. AEDC was one of 50 projects that were selected to receive a $50,000 prize to fund their project out of a field of over 800 applicants.

“We wouldn’t be opening this space on Friday if it weren’t for Vincent,” says Durante. “He practically got us through the application process single-handedly.”

The concept behind the Flex Launch & Coworking space is that a small technology-based startup, typically made up of one or two founders, can take up residence in an office after being accepted into the business incubation program. As they grow to add employees, the company can simply add on desk space in the open office by completing an inventory sheet. Pricing is built-in to the initial lease, so no other negotiating is needed.

Coworking space will also be available for independent professionals for a simple monthly fee. Coworking is a concept where independent professionals can work out of a more formal office space rather than out of their homes or a coffee shop. They get all of the amenities of a professional office without the burden of a lease.

The Flex Launch & Coworking space features nine offices sized for two to four people and seating in the open office area for as many as 30 additional people. Amenities include broadband internet, a spacious kitchenette and dining area, and a lounge. Clients and coworking members will have access to two conference rooms with seating as many as 25 people. There are also two small “phone booths” where someone can take a call in a small soundproof room so they aren’t disturbing anyone in the open office.

“We wanted to create a fun space that could be as close to a turnkey space for technology entrepreneurs to get started,” explains Durante. “Making the agreement flexible allows for the founders to focus on growing their companies fast rather than the logistics of negotiating a lease time and time again as their needs change.”

For more information about the opening event and to register for the day, please visit: