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Bethlehem Enterprise Zone Offers Tax Credits to Qualified Companies

By Colin McEvoy on July 29, 2016

A map of the Bethlehem Enterprise Zones. (Click the image to enlarge)

A map of the Bethlehem Enterprise Zones. (Click the image to enlarge)

Applications are due next month for an economic development program that offers financial incentives for eligible companies currently located or planning to locate within the city of Bethlehem.

In certain parts of the city authorized through the Bethlehem Enterprise Zone program, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development authorizes tax credits for certain state taxes to private companies making qualified investments in rehabilitating, expanding, or improving buildings or land.

The program is intended to encourage private investment, and to promote job growth and economic development, according to Asher Schiavone, Bethlehem economic development coordinator. It also helps to address deteriorated, distressed, and blighted buildings.

Schiavone said there has been strong interest in the program this year, and that the city of Bethlehem, which administers the program, has been making significant out-reach efforts to Bethlehem-based businesses to take advantage of the zones.

“In my experience there seems to be a sense of ambiguity when it comes to the Enterprise Zone, which is why we have focused on outreach to incoming and existing businesses,” Schiavone said.

“To be clear, virtually any business that incurs eligible costs between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017, may apply for these sellable tax credits,” he said. “It is up to each business whether the time to prepare and submit the application is worth the potential reward.”

Applications are due September 16. For more information, contact Schiavone at 610-865-4347 [email protected].

Most of the commercial or industrial areas within the city of Bethlehem are covered by the Bethlehem Enterprise Zone program, Schiavone said.

Any private business within the zone, large or small, can apply for 25 percent sellable EZ Tax Credits up to $500,000 if they incur any of a certain type of expenses between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017.

Last year, a $350,000 tax credit application was approved for a $2 million project at the Flatiron building at 301 Broadway, Schiavone said. The project, which was expected to create eight new jobs, involved the removal an ineffective heating systems, the utilization of solar power, and the renovation of existing office space.

The Bethlehem Department of Community and Economic Development recently made a presentation about the Enterprise Zone program before Bethlehem City Council’s Community Development Committee, where Councilman Shawn Martell called the Zone a “powerful tool in the city’s ongoing commitment to diversify and strengthen our economy” while simultaneously promoting investment in distressed buildings.

“The Flatiron project is a great example of how EZ tax credits can be used to preserve and update an iconic structure, add jobs and promote green energy,” said Martell, who chairs the Community Development Committee. “I’m excited to see how the next cycle of applicants can further these goals.”

The Bethlehem Enterprise Zone is one of several real estate and business development incentives available in Bethlehem. Others include the Southside Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ), Community Revitalization and Improvement Zone (CRIZ), Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA), and Tax Incremental Financing (TIZ).

Visit the Bethlehem Economic Development Corporation website for more information about the incentive programs and others.

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