BB&T Economic Growth Fund Announces $1.45 Million in Grants for Lehigh Valley Organizations
By Colin McEvoy on June 30, 2017
More than a dozen Lehigh Valley organizations have received a total of $1.45 million in grants that will support manufacturing, create job pipelines, reduce blight, and spur economic development throughout the region.
The grants, which were announced on June 29, are from the BB&T Economic Growth Fund at the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, which includes $250,000 to the Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) for the redevelopment of the Allentown Metal Works site.
Other recipients include the Bethlehem Economic Development Corporation (BEDCO) for the creation of a revolving loan fund to remediate blighted city properties, and $250,000 to the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park for the construction of the Bethlehem Manufacturing Center.
“BB&T has a long history of supporting our local business and academic communities,” said BB&T Community Banking Group Executive Scott Fainor. “We are proud to provide community leadership at this level, and we believe BB&T’s investment will play a significant role in the future health and prosperity of the Lehigh Valley.”
The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) joined in the grant applications for the Allentown Metal Works and Bethlehem Manufacturing Center projects, according to LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham.
“We’re proud to have supported the grant applications for these two projects,” Cunningham said. “This will help further bolster the Lehigh Valley’s growing manufacturing sector, which currently the top sector in the region for economic output.”
When BB&T Corp. announced 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 through business attraction and incubation, industrial growth, and the creation of sustainable and thriving wage jobs.
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 creation of sustainable/thriving wage jobs.
“This grant will allow AEDC to complete the critical engineering design work for the site’s first building,” AEDC Executive Director Scott Unger said of the Allentown Metal Works site. “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.”
The former Allentown Metal Works site is a 17-acre industrial brownfield on the southside of Allentown. The former steel fabrication site has been vacant since 2008 and had fallen into disrepair. AEDC purchased the site in 2012 and has been steadily working towards its rehabilitation.
The BB&T funds will be combined with the $2 million Pennsylvania Business in Our Sites loan previously awarded to the project to get the first building on the site ready for occupancy, according to AEDC. Designated as “Building A” in project plans, this 42,000 square-foot building sits along South 10th Street at the entrance to the site.
“It has been a true pleasure working with Scott Fainor and the leadership of the BB&T Economic Growth Fund in making these important investments in the growth of the Lehigh Valley,” said Bernie Story, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation.
“We are delighted to have partnered with BB&T in assessing the many opportunities for support, and we know this effort will have an impact throughout the entire community,” Fainor said. “The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation is in a strong position to support efforts like this, and BB&T is to be commended for their commitment to the quality of life in the Lehigh Valley.”
Other grant recipients include:
- Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania ($100,000 for the expansion of a Lehigh Student, Faculty & Alumni Collaboration Area and the mission of the Baker Institute and its business incubator)
- Northampton Community College ($200,000 for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship)
- Lehigh County ($100,000 for Lehigh Career & Technical Institute Workforce Development Scholarships)
- The city of Easton ($125,000 for the Da Vinci Science City Architectural & Exhibits Master Plan, and $75,000 for Parking and Hotel Studies to enhance tourism in Easton)
- Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Foundation ($50,000 for Western Hamilton Street Gateway Project)
- Cedar Crest College ($10,000 for the Student Employment Center)
- DeSales University ($10,000 for the Health Care Program Scholarship Fund)
- Lehigh Carbon Community College Foundation ($10,000 for Dual-Enrollment Classes with Allentown School District)
- Moravian College ($10,000 for the BB&T Fellows Program)
- Muhlenberg College ($10,000 for the Business Accelerator Complex)
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