BB&T Economic Growth Fund provides funding boost to advance project

On Thursday afternoon, the Allentown Economic Development Corporation received a $250,000 check from the BB&T Economic Growth Fund that will allow the redevelopment of the former Allentown Metal Works to make some key advancements.

“This grant will allow AEDC to complete the critical engineering design work for the site’s first building,” explained AEDC Executive Director Scott Unger. “When combined with other financial programs that have been awarded to the project, this building will become the first on this site to be placed back into use.”

When BB&T Corp. announced that it would purchase Allentown’s National Penn Bancshares Inc. last year, that news came with a pledge to create a $5 million fund to support economic development in the Lehigh Valley and Berks County. The purpose of the BB&T Economic Growth Fund is to improve the standard of living and economic health of the region through business attraction and incubation, industrial growth, and the creation of sustainable/thriving wage jobs. The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation and Berks County Community Foundation on April 1, 2016, each received $2.5 million from the BB&T Economic Growth Fund to disseminate for these projects.

The BB&T funds will be combined with the $2.0 million Pennsylvania Business in Our Sites loan previously awarded to the project to get the first building on the site ready for occupancy. Designated as “Building A’ in project plans, this 42,000-square-foot building sits along South 10th Street at the entrance to the site. Once design and rehabilitation work is completed, the building will have a code-compliant shell and will be ready for tenant fit-out and occupancy. It is expected that the building can be occupied by one to three companies which could potentially create 25 to 45 jobs.

“Getting Building A into productive use is the first step in bringing our overall vision for the site into reality,” explained Unger. “It will be an excellent milestone to reach and will add significant momentum to a critical brownfield project within the City of Allentown.”

The former Allentown Metal Works site is a 17-acre industrial brownfield on the south side of Allentown. The former steel fabrication site has been vacant since 2011 and had fallen into disrepair. AEDC purchased the site in 2012 and has been steadily working towards rehabilitating the site. To-date, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the City of Allentown have provided $730,000 in grant and loan funds to AEDC that have allowed it to get the site Act 2 compliant through various cleanup and remediation activities.

“In addition to the BB&T Economic Growth Fund and the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, AEDC would like to thank our partners on this project without whom the remediation of this 268,000 square feet worth of buildings on this brownfield site would not have been possible,” Unger said in closing. “Special thanks to the City of Allentown, Lehigh County, and Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation’s Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative. Additional thanks go out to the EPA, PADEP, EarthRes Group, BrightFields, Inc., and HDR.”

About the Allentown Economic Development Corporation

The 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 onto 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.

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