Bridgeworks Incubator Clients Earned $7 Million in Revenue in 2018

By Colin McEvoy on February 28, 2019

The exterior of Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, the Allentown Economic Development Corporation's business incubator.

The exterior of Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, the Allentown Economic Development Corporation’s business incubator.

The client companies of the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center business incubator in Allentown earned nearly $7 million in revenue in 2018, a 50 percent increase over 2017.

Those were among the results announced by the Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), which operates the Bridgeworks program, from its annual Incubator Client Impact Study.

There are 11 client Bridgeworks client companies, which collectively employ 31 full-time employees and another 43 people as either part-time or contracted employees, according to Anthony Durante, Program Manager with AEDC.

“We added a new company to our incubation program in 2018 and they are off to an impressive start,” explained Program Manager Anthony Durante. “Plus, several of our existing companies continue to grow steadily as their businesses mature. We are extremely pleased with the results that we are seeing from our clients.”

Total salaries, wages, and contractor fees paid to these employees more than doubled to $2.83 million. In addition to the incremental growth in employment by the existing program clients, the new client added several highly technical positions that command higher salaries.

“Our clients are starting to transition more jobs from 1099 contractor positions to part-time and full-time employee positions,” Durante said. “It’s a sign that they are more confident in the strength of their companies and are willing to make these positions more permanent, which is very encouraging.”

Founded in 1989 in the refurbished former Mack Trucks Plant 4A, the 64,000 square-foot Bridgeworks Enterprise Center is the only business incubator in the Lehigh Valley dedicated primarily to manufacturing startups.

This year, Bridgeworks is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its founding. The program dates back to 1989, when its first client-tenant, Luminaire Testing Labs, joined the program, Durante said.

Since that time, of the 61 companies have participated in the Bridgeworks program, 33 have graduated, of which 27 are still in business today, with the remaining six experiencing successful exits through mergers with other companies.

Bridgeworks client companies have created 618 jobs since the program launched, Durante said.

“I think that it’s undeniable that business incubation works,” he said. “We are helping entrepreneurs to create sustainable companies that employ highly skilled people and pay good wages. Both our historical data and our annual impact data clearly show that.”

Bridgeworks is currently 99 percent occupied for the first time in recent history. In addition to its manufacturing incubator suites, which are completely occupied, the facility boasts 10 small and three larger offices available to clients both within and outside the incubation program.

AEDC recently welcomed six new clients to the Flex Office who are in the process of locating their companies within the facility, according to AEDC Executive Director Scott Unger.

“AEDC continues to excel at one of the most unique forms of business incubation by focusing on manufacturing,” Unger said. “And apart from a small grant received through the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, we do this essentially without any operational funding support from federal, state, or university sources.”

The annual impact survey of the client companies participating in the Bridgeworks program gathers important data on job creation, company revenues, and obtained loans, grants, and equity investments. That data is aggregated into a report that demonstrates the economic impact that the incubator has on the Allentown and Lehigh Valley communities.

Bridgeworks received the IMPACT Award for February 2018 from the International Business Innovation Association. The award distinguishes entrepreneurship centers that are creating economic impact in their communities.

The current Bridgeworks clients include Amorphic Tech Ltd., ColdEdge Technologies, The Colony Meadery, County Seat Spirits, HiJinx Brewing Company, JH Plastics, LightLab International Allentown, MTS Design and Manufacture, Polymer Contours, TRuCapSol, and Zzyzx Polymers.

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