Online Retailer Zulily To Open Hub In Bethlehem That Employs 1,200

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

Online retailer zulily plans to establish a distribution center in Bethlehem that will create 1,200 full-time jobs over the next three years, Gov. Tom Corbett announced today.

The hub is targeted for 10 Emery St., an 800,000-square-foot warehouse owned by Liberty Property Trust in Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII — former Bethlehem Steel Corp. land off Route 412.

Corbett said in a news release that the building will serve as zulily’s Northeast fulfillment center and the company is making a multimillion-dollar investment there.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/09/online_retailer_zulily_to_open.html

Nazareth Council Wants Harrisburg To Study Police Department; Petition Calls For Chief’s Job

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

Editor’s Note:  There are ways to get the state involved when outside intervention is needed.  This should have been done years ago in Pottstown because of the out of control crime rate, that apparently isn’t a concern to the leadership.

Political blogger Bernie O’Hare criticized Nazareth Council tonight for seeking a contractor to study the police force rather than take steps to fix it.

In a shouting exchange with solicitor Al Pierce, O’Hare claimed council had a similar study performed and didn’t like the results so the group is hoping for a better result this time.

“You don’t like what he’s telling you,” O’Hare told the mayor of the private investigator and his report.

Mayor Carl Strye Jr. said the previous study was internal. Pierce called O’Hare’s claims not “factually accurate.”

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/nazareth/index.ssf/2014/09/nazareth_council_wants_harrisb.html

Scranton Mayor Vetoes Council’s Revisions To His Budget

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Mayor Chris Doherty on Friday vetoed city council’s revisions to his proposed $130.2 million budget.

Council will hold a special meeting Monday at 5:30 p.m. to vote on whether to override or sustain the veto, council President Janet Evans said.

A split council on Thursday raised and lowered some salaries and added two positions in the mayor’s budget. The amendments did not change the budget total or the 57 percent tax increase and 69 percent trash collection fee hike.

Council voted 3-2 on many of the amendments in a split that had Councilmen Bob McGoff, Pat Rogan and Jack Loscombe, who are all returning to council in 2014, forming a bloc to pass the amendments, and Council President Janet Evans and Councilman Frank Joyce, who are departing council, dissenting.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-mayor-vetoes-council-s-revisions-to-his-budget-1.1601207

Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority (PDIDA) Is On The Move!

180933_10150092018677029_7436728_nLike the little engine that could, Sheila Dugan has taken the throttle of the Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority (PDIDA) and is chugging uphill toward her vision of a revitalized central business district.

Unlike Main Street Managers in the past, this dynamo hit the ground running and is pulling PDIDA into the 21st century at warp speed.  The PDIDA board has been reorganized, assessments are being collected, activities are being scheduled and a new cooperation is being fostered between PDIDA, borough hall, PAID, the TriCounty Community Network and other entities in Pottstown.

Sheila actually lives in Pottstown, is a downtown business owner (she and her husband own Grumpy’s) and her children attend the Pottstown School District.  Sheila is INVESTED in Pottstown (a missing component in past Main Street Managers).

The perception of business owners in the downtown, by the general public, is poor.  Sheila is trying to raise awareness that most businesses downtown are Mom and Pop operations.  In many cases, one owner, one employee.  Trying to “do it all” six days a week from open to close does not leave much time for people to attend PDIDA meetings (or much of anything else).

To combat the time problem, Sheila has come up with an innovative solution – block captains.  The block captains will talk with their assigned business owners and attend the meetings to speak for the group they represent.  The block captains will then convey the meeting results back to their group.  Email is also being used to keep PDIDA members updated, in addition to block captains and meetings.

Sheila has been working closely with the Pottstown Police Department and Borough Manager Mark Flanders toward a solution for the vagrant problem downtown.  Sheila said Mark Flanders and the Pottstown Police Department have been extremely helpful and cooperative in working toward a solution for this problem.  You will see more police officers downtown walking a beat along with other measures that are aimed at making the downtown clean, safe and a welcoming atmosphere for shoppers, arts and restaurant patrons.

PDIDA is also working with the numerous social services agencies in Pottstown.  These agencies will also play a role in managing the homeless and idle population that have been congregating downtown and hampering revitalization efforts.

Sheila works hand-in-hand with Pottstown Area Industrial Director Executive Director Steve Bamford to help market Pottstown and fill empty store fronts with new businesses.  She said Steve Bamford has been great to work with.  Marketing Pottstown is not an easy job.

Another important cooperative effort taking place is between the Pottstown Codes Department and PDIDA.  Every building within the PDIDA zone is being reviewed and code violations are being identified where they exist.  Clean and safe buildings are certainly more appealing to consumers!

Like many organizations, PDIDA has lost a large percentage of its funding.  Sheila said individual and corporate sponsors are desperately needed as well as volunteers.  For example, the PDIDA office downtown needs volunteers to help staff the office.  Sheila is also working on fundraising efforts and is applying for grants to help fund events and projects.

While we are on the subject of funding and budgets, Sheila is Pottstown’s official Main Street Manager but receives only a fraction of the salary the former managers were paid.  This is due to the loss of funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for the Main Street Program.  Pottstown is fortunate to have someone willing to take on this herculean task, put in the time, do the hard work and get results on a shoestring budget.

One last thing before I give you a list of upcoming events downtown.  A while ago, one of my readers asked me if the façade program was still in existence.  I emailed the former Main Street Manager, identified myself and posed my reader’s question.  I never received the courtesy of a reply.  I asked Sheila about this during our conversation and she told me that the façade program does indeed still exist and there is still money available.

Some exciting PDIDA events to look forward to include:

June 8 – 2nd Annual Iron Horse, motorcycle show

June 20 – Rumble Downtown (includes Misty May-Treanor and live music).

July 20 – 2nd Annual Sidewalk Sale

October 12 – 6th Annual Riverfest – PDIDA is taking on this event and adding an evening component from 6pm – 8pm which will include live bands, artists, beer garden, a Bike/Art event and a TriPAC show at 8pm. Downtown restaurants will be participating.

Sheila said she is always looking for participants, live music, artists and street performers for PDIDA events.  I will again put in a plug for individual and corporate sponsors.

The Pottstown Visitors Center aka the PDIDA office is located at 17 North Hanover Street in downtown Pottstown.  The phone number is (610) 323-5400.  Sheila Dugan is the Main Street Manager and her direct line is (484) 948-6061.  The website is http://downtownpottstown.org/

Underground Centralia Fire Still Burning After 50 Years

Higher resolution photograph of the Route 61 c...

Higher resolution photograph of the Route 61 crack, in Centralia PA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CENTRALIA, Pa.  – Fifty years ago on Sunday, a fire at the town dump ignited an exposed coal seam, setting off a chain of events that eventually led to the demolition of nearly every building in Centralia – a whole community of 1,400 simply gone.

All these decades later, the Centralia fire still burns in Columbia County. It also maintains its grip on the popular imagination, drawing visitors from around the world who gawk at twisted, buckled Route 61, at the sulfurous steam rising intermittently from ground that’s warm to the touch, at the empty, lonely streets where nature has reclaimed what coal-industry money once built.

It’s a macabre story that has long provided fodder for books, movies and plays – the latest one debuting in March at a theater in New York.

Yet to the handful of residents who still occupy Centralia, who keep their houses tidy and their lawns mowed, this borough in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania is no sideshow attraction. It’s home, and they’d like to keep it that way.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=389185

City Of Altoona Accepted Into Act 47 Distressed Municipalities Program

Undetailed map of Altoona, Pennsylvania and so...

Undetailed map of Altoona, Pennsylvania and some surrounding areas From my talk page: :I drew the map of Altoona in xpaint from a map on the Internet and a Rand-McNally atlas. It’s in the public domain. — Djinn112 04:40, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC) –$ 02:38, 2 Oct 2004 (UTC) Category:Altoona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  More bad economic news! Altoona joins Reading and Harrisburg as the latest Pennsylvania city to have major financial problems!

The state on Thursday accepted Altoona into its Distressed Municipalities Program.

City officials hope “going distressed” will help avoid insolvency by relaxing restrictions on property and income taxes and by helping adjust operations in a framework that has virtually strangled all third-class cities in Pennsylvania.

“Altoona needs more than a short-term or week-by-week fix from its creditors and obligations,” stated Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker in a news release. “It needs a comprehensive recovery plan that will lay the groundwork for long-term financial solvency.”

Walker will have 30 days to appoint an Act 47 coordinator for Altoona, and the coordinator will then have 90 days to propose a recovery plan.

Read more: http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/560502/City-receives-entry-into-Act-47-distressed-program.html?nav=742

West Reading Gets Grants For Streets Work

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Big changes will be coming to several West Reading streets this summer, thanks to $300,000 in grants from the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

According to Dean L. Rohrbach, who manages the borough’s Elm Street program, West Reading will be designated as one of the first Keystone Communities Elm Streets in the state, making it eligible for various revitalization grants through the Elm Street program.

“If we’re not among the first, we will be the first,” he said.

The borough has been approved for two grants: one for $250,000 for public improvements and one for $50,000 to help implement various revitalization programs.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=383070

Tourism In Berks Bouncing Back

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Whether they soaked up sounds at Berks Jazz Fest, watched cars tear up the track at Maple Grove Raceway or savored roasted ox at the Kutztown Folk Festival, tourists have increased their spending in Berks County.

A state report on tourism in calendar year 2010, the latest year for which numbers are available, showed Berks tourism spending increased by 10.3 percent from 2009 to $687.7 million.

It was, for Greater Reading Convention & Visitors Bureau President Crystal A. Seitz, a healthy dose of good news after a difficult recession.

Seitz said, “I am in love with those numbers.”

Read more: http://businessweekly.readingeagle.com/?p=3003

Harrisburg Under Control Of State Appointed Receiver

David Unkovic, most recently chief counsel of the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development, was named by Gov. Tom Corbett to lead Harrisburg quickly out of financial distress. He will be assisted by the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge.

At a press conference, Unkovic deflected concerns about his past, including 23 years at the firm of Saul Ewing, which represents Assured Guaranty, the largest insurer of Harrisburg incinerator bonds.  He’s also worked for other firms that have ties to the incinerator debacle, including Public Finance Management and RBC Capital Markets…

Read the rest of the story… http://www.theburgnews.com/Index.html