PHL: More Than A Plane, Train Destination

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is something to be said for speaking in one voice.

Key promoters of the city and region certainly think so, having all agreed to adopt a new marketing tagline – PHL: Here for the Making.

In the coming days, you can expect to see it in ads and promotions by the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Select Greater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. and Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association.

The goal, according to Jack Ferguson, president of PHLCVB, is to leverage the marketing clout of those groups by adopting a single, focused slogan that will resonate with es, conventions and travelers who might be interested in coming here.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140212_PHL__More_than_a_plane__train_destination.html#PYSMwLPBfTEWiY8r.99

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Greater Reading Chamber Receives Grant For Manufacturing

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Corbett administration today announced the award of a Discovered in Pennsylvania-Developed in Pennsylvania grant to help launch the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Reignite in Pennsylvania program, created to support the growth of manufacturers.

The Greater Reading Chamber will receive a $286,600 grant to support targeted outreach, coaching, mentoring, training and consulting to an estimated 30 companies in the first year and another 30 companies in the second year.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519627

Third Annual TriCounty Community Career Fair

Wednesday, May 22nd, 10am-2pm

Sunnybrook Ballroom, 50 Sunnybrook Road, Pottstown

 

Over 80 employers!

 

Special thanks to event sponsors: ExelonEDSIJ.P. Mascaro & SonsLifeSpan,Pottstown Memorial Medical CenterThe Mercury, and the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce.

This event is brought to you by the 

TCN Exelon Nuclear Workforce Development Program

For more information, please call TCN at 610-705-3301, Ext.2.

Crime Is Focus Of Community Forum

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With quality of life one of the top factors businesses consider in deciding to move into a community, the Greater Berks Chamber of Commerce & Industry focused on one local quality-of-life issue at its “State of the Community” breakfast Friday: crime.

Panel members, chief among them Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams, said crime is not as bad as it might seem.

“There’s a misperception of the rate of crime in the city,” Adams told more than 100 Chamber members gathered at the Crowne Plaza Reading, Wyomissing.

He noted that, comparing the local rates of murders, robberies and assaults with comparable cities and counties in the region, Reading and Berks are in the middle of the pack, not worst of the pack.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=463136

Blair County Representatives Visit Reading

If law enforcement leaders can lay out a clear-cut strategy to reduce drug and gang activity in Reading and Berks County, there is a good chance businesses will be willing to pay for some of it.

That was the feeling of Ellen T. Horan, president and CEO of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry, on Thursday after she and other area leaders got a rundown of how a business-fueled crime-fighting program has succeeded in Blair County.

“In our community, it would be helpful to have the business community step up, if we developed some strategies and expected outcomes,” Horan said.

The nonprofit program, Operation Our Town, was started by business leaders in Blair County to help fund law enforcement and community efforts to stop young people from becoming criminals.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=454375

Chamber Of Commerce President Joins Call For Reading Crime Summit

English: Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with ...

English: Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with Berks County courthouse on left; July 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While multiple independent efforts push toward scheduling a crime summit for Reading – including a pre-summit planning session set for Monday in the offices of state Sen. Judy Schwank – business executives are casting votes on the city’s tarnished image with their feet.

New executives hired by Berks companies are choosing to live in Chester or Montgomery counties, preferring greater proximity to Philadelphia, according to Ellen T. Horan, president and CEO of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry.  Horan, citing conversations with officials at Berks companies, said the perception of the city as crime-infested is repelling executive talent.

“The summit is a great idea,” Horan said. “I would like to see a little more urgency.”

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=434050

Scranton Is A ‘Hot Commodity’ For Downtown Residential Housing

Scranton‘s financial house may be in disorder, but the downtown residential boom continues to build momentum.

More than $11.3 million in three ongoing developments will add 74 apartments to Central City by next summer.

“Scranton is a hot commodity,” said Charlie Jefferson, an investor in the $8.6 million redevelopment of the Scranton Chamber of Commerce Building at Mulberry Street and North Washington Avenue.

Scranton’s municipal government is facing a credit crisis and recently borrowed $6.25 million to cover short-term financial obligations.  City residents could face potential tax increases of 39 to 79 percent – or more – over the next three years.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-is-a-hot-commodity-for-downtown-residential-housing-1.1377909

Developer Charlie Jefferson: A Driving Force Behind Scranton’s Downtown Renaissance

 Connell Building exterior

My trip to Scranton included meeting and touring with Charlie Jefferson, along with Mayor Doherty.  Charlie is a Scranton developer who has a passion for his work and a desire to see Scranton blossom.  Charlie is responsible for the dramatic transformation of the Connell Building.  Charlie, like Mayor Doherty, is very down-to-earth and approachable.

Charlie took us inside the Connell Building.  The eight-story building sat vacant for 10 years before being developed.  The building’s occupancy rate was about 20 percent for ten years before becoming vacant.  Now there are 89 new 1 – 2 bedroom, market-priced, luxury loft apartments.  The building has been beautifully restored, while maintaining historical integrity and bringing the building up to code.  Every loft is rented.  There is a waiting list!  I have no interior pictures of any apartments because there is no model and Charlie was unable to contact anyone who might have let us tour and photograph their apartment home.  Maybe next trip!

The bottom two floors of the Connell Building will be used for commercial/retail/office.  This will be a great example of mixed-use development when this part is finished.  Charlie said he is working with a grocery store to move into the building along with other tenants to fill the remaining commercial/retail/office space.  Imagine the convenience of going down an elevator to the grocery store.  No driving, parking and traffic!  City living at its finest!

Another nice feature of the Connell Building is the attached parking garage.  Secure garage parking is available to all the residents of the Connell Building if they choose to rent a space.

Over 50% of the Connell Building’s tenants are new residents to Scranton and Lackawanna County.  There is a growing segment of people who want to live in a redeveloped heritage property.  These people are usually well-educated professionals who want the best urban living has to offer.  There are looking for walkable downtowns with fine restaurants, shopping, cultural events, services and entertainment.  Concentrated pockets of people in a downtown, with disposable income, will greatly increase the customer base for stores, restaurants and other businesses in general.  This phenomenon is not necessarily limited to the 20’s – 30’s demographic.  There are more middle-agers and seniors who want to sell the house, downsize and become urban dwellers entering this emerging market.

The Connell Building’s first tenant is a grandson of the building’s original owner.  He was very excited to see his family’s former building redeveloped and wanted to be part of the renaissance in Scranton.

Charlie’s newest project is the redevelopment of the former Chamber of Commerce Building, not far from the Connell Building.  The building is now vacant.  Like the Connell Building, the old Chamber Building was constructed during Scranton’s King Coal heyday.  It is very opulent.  Charlie plans to do the same thing with this building as he did with the Connell Building.  It is expected that Scranton will need 600 more apartments/condominiums in the next 5 years because of the medical college and spin-off development.  If the law school becomes a reality, that number will substantially increase. 

Charlie took us inside the old Chamber Building and we poked around.  Structurally it is in great shape and ripe for development.  The building has amazing architectural features and many of the apartments will feature spectacular views of downtown Scranton.  There will be balconies!  This project will rent out quickly because of the location and unique features of the space.  The success of the Connell Building has paved the way for further mixed-use development downtown.

I am looking forward to the completion of Charlie’s newest project.  It promises to be amazing.

Having a great developer, like Charlie Jefferson, to work with is a huge part of the redevelopment process.  Mayor Doherty has surrounded himself with some very competent people to help turn his vision for Scranton into a reality.

 

Chamber Building pictures below, currently vacant awaiting development!

Former Franklin Mint Site In Delaware County Being Eyed For Planned Community

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Delaware County

Image via Wikipedia

A 173-acre site, that includes the former Franklin Mint in Middletown, Delaware County, will become a planned community if developers have their way.  The mint site and two other adjacent properties will be developed into a new “walkable community”.  This project would take 5 – 10 years to complete and would feature 1,253 homes, 798,000 square feet of commercial space, 235,000 square feet of office space and a 225-room hotel.

The new community would enable residents to live, work and play in the same place.  This “town center” concept is becoming very popular.  Construction would create 4,748 jobs.  The number of permanent jobs this project would bring to Middletown is estimated at 2,800!

Tax revenue generated from this project, for the borough, school district and county, would be over $8.1 million!  The Franklin Mint, Middletown site has been closed since 2004.

Public hearings have already started and developers stated they are willing to hold as many hearings as it takes.  500 people attended last night’s legislative hearing.  The Franklin Mint redevelopment project is endorsed by the Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance and the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce.

The project is strongly opposed by a group called Save Middletown.

Here is a link to the developer’s website that will answer many questions you might have about the project:
http://www.transformingthemint.com/index.htm

Here is the Save Middletown website:
http://www.ourmiddletown.org/index_files/fms

You can read both sides and draw your own conclusions.

Center City Living In Scranton Is Taking Off

Building near the Lackawanna County Courthouse...

Image via Wikipedia

The demand for Center City Scranton housing is heating up.  Another blighted landmark building in Central Scranton is being converted into more than 35 apartments with retail space on the first floor.  The 5-story Chamber of Commerce Building was built in grand style in 1926.  Brass rails, marble floors, 14-foot tall built-in bookcases and rollout doors are featured in the beautiful interior.  The building served the Scranton Chamber of Commerce until 1998.

Developer Charlie Jefferson, is the force behind this transformation.  Jefferson was also responsible for the Connell Building’s transformation into loft apartments.  All of the loft apartments were leased before anyone moved in.  Jefferson’s total investment in downtown Scranton is $35 million.  This Chamber of Commerce building sale was some where in the vicinity of $1 million according to Jefferson.

The former East Scranton Junior High School will be converted into 24 apartments.  A $3 million grant from Ed Rendell will help to transform this property into more apartments.  The school has been closed since 2001, according to a Facebook alumni page.

The construction of The Commonwealth Medical College is going to drive demand for 600 additional apartments in central Scranton in the next five years.  The amount of recent development in Scranton has been astonishing given the economic downtown during the last several years.  An increased population in the central business district will spawn the need for stores, restaurants, clubs and services like banks, dry cleaners, grocery stores and other conveniences for residents.  The Commonwealth Medical College is building an 180,000 square foot building in downtown Scranton that is opening this year.  The new facility will house the school’s educational and research programs.

Mayor Chris Doherty said “the success of the city will come from life downtown, and the trend is well on its way.”