Bethlehem’s CRIZ Not Living Up To ‘Shovel-Ready’ Billing; Officials Explain Why

Bethlehem received a coveted City Revitalization and Improvement Zone because its application for the state economic development tool was chock-full of shovel-ready projects.

The incentive was expected to allow for plans for a Bass Pro Shops, convention center and second hotel at Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem to be approved by the middle of last year. Plans for the long-stalled redevelopment of Martin Tower also were supposed to be completed by mid-2014.

But now 16 months after Bethlehem’z CRIZ designation was awarded, most of the projects the incentive was supposed to springboard are still stalled.

Officials say anticipated redevelopment has been slowed by having to start a new city authority, getting answers from the state and by the fact that the CRIZ economic development benefits pale compared to Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone.

Read more:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2015/04/bethlehems_criz_so_far_not_liv.html

Allentown Could Be Blueprint For New Development

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ALLENTOWN, PA – Three years ago, run-down tattoo parlors and pawnshops dominated Hamilton Street, the main drag in Pennsylvania’s third-largest city.

Now they’re gone, replaced by high-tech firms, high-end restaurants, and a burst of construction activity. In 22 months, seven buildings of at least 10 stories have gone up along Hamilton Street, and two older buildings were rehabbed. The centerpiece is the PPL Center, a new, gleaming, 10,000-seat arena that this week opens as the new hockey home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Flyers’ minor league affiliate.

Bolstered by special legislation that diverts most of the state taxes on new development within a 130-acre urban zone, supporters say what’s happened in Allentown could be a blueprint for other long-suffering small cities eager to shed their industrial past.

“I think we’re trying to change the Allentown identity,” Mayor Ed Pawlowski said over lunch Thursday at the Hamilton, one of five new downtown restaurants. “It was so jerry-rigged over the years there wasn’t much of an identity left.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/20141012_Allentown_could_be_blueprint_for_new_development.html#elAVd62cIEa7dzdL.99

Officials Further Hopeful About International Rail Port In Bethlehem

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials were in Bethlehem last week to further discuss opening a local international rail port and local officials left the meeting feeling very hopeful.

“They’re very interested in the site, they’re very interested in the Lehigh Valley,” said Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez, who attended the Sept. 12 meeting with Port Authority officials at Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.

Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Don Cunningham also said the Port Authority is very interested in opening an inland port in Bethlehem. He said the main unknown is whether the owner of the Bethlehem Intermodal rail yard can get funding to expand.

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

FedEx Exploring Millions In Tax Exemptions, Public Funds For Allen Township Megahub

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

FedEx has explored pursuing $25.3 million in tax exemptions for the massive distribution plant it is considering building in Allen Township.

The international shipping company has projected $2.53 million in annual tax breaks between 2017 and 2026 if a special tax zone is established on the 253 acres, according to company documents obtained by lehighvalleylive.com.

But those exemptions would require the creation of a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance — or LERTA — zone, which would require approval from the township, county and Northampton Area School Board.

FedEx spokesman David Westrick declined to comment on the Allen Township proposal because the project is still only under consideration by the company.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2014/02/fedex_exploring_millions_in_ta.html

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Walgreens To Close Lehigh Valley Distribution Center, Lay Off 400

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

Walgreens will close its distribution center in Hanover Township, Northampton County, marking one of the largest layoffs in the Lehigh Valley in recent years.

The facility’s 400 employees will be laid off in phases, beginning in mid-January and concluding in March. Employees at the center, at 125 Commerce Way in Lehigh Valley Industrial Park IV, were informed of the decision Thursday.

“Our Lehigh Valley Distribution Center has served the company since 1991, making the decision to close it a difficult one,” Emily Hartwig of Walgreens corporate media relations said Friday.

Hartwig said the layoffs are part of the drugstore chain’s effort to maximize efficiencies at its distribution centers across the region.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-walgreens-to-close-bethlehem-distribution-cente-20130927,0,1515055.story#ixzz2gCXpUaeT
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Touting Lehigh Valley’s Benefits, To Locals

When he took over the region’s main economic development agency last year, CEO Don Cunningham promised to refocus the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. on its primary goals, especially marketing the Lehigh Valley.

That apparently includes marketing to the people living here, especially business leaders.

LVEDC rolled out a sweeping billboard campaign this week designed to promote the Lehigh Valley to the Lehigh Valley and its business leaders.

Or wait, just Lehigh Valley. Drop the “the.”

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/business/mc-lehigh-valley-billboards-20130612,0,3517196.story