Executive Phillips Armstrong Delivers 2022 State of the County Address

By Colin McEvoy on February 17, 2022

Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong delivered his 2022 address on Feb. 17.

Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong highlighted such topics as COVID-19 mitigation efforts, infrastructure projects, emergency rental assistance, small business and nonprofit grant funding, the Cedarbrook Senior Care & Rehabilitation, and other topics during his annual State of the County address.

“We all have felt the weight of these past couple years,” Armstrong said during the Feb. 17 address. “However, through resilience and determination, it is time we change our trajectory away from fear and discontentment. It is time we look to the future as one community, one Lehigh County.”

Held on Feb. 17 at the Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, the State of Lehigh County was hosted by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) before a crowd of community members, business leaders, and government officials in compliance with current COVID-19 safety regulations.

Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong speaking before a crowd at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown.

Lehigh County remains in the longest State of Emergency Declaration in its history, Armstrong said. The county has implemented COVID-19 mitigation efforts in all county facilities such as HVAC improvements, temperature screenings, mask usage, continual social distancing, and daily staff self-monitoring.

The county continues to provide grant assistance for rental relief, small businesses, and nonprofits as it heads into 2022. Since last March, the county helped more than 3,000 families keep a roof over their heads throughout Emergency Rental Assistance program, Armstrong said.

In partnership with the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, Lehigh County administered up to $15,000 in grants to businesses with less than 100 employees. In 2020, the county provided grants to more than 723 businesses, and in 2021, it helped 614 more businesses with funding from the American Rescue Plan.

“I’ve heard from businesses who said they might not have made it if not for those grants,” Armstrong said. “It was money well-invested and it’s keeping our small businesses going.”

The Lehigh County COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program will reopen to the public for a third round of applications on Feb. 18. An estimated $2.5 million in funding will be allocated for local businesses with 100 or fewer employees.

Eligible businesses can apply for up to $15,000 in order to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and its related expenses, Armstrong said. Businesses that received funding from previous rounds are not eligible to apply. 

Additionally, the county continues to invest in its infrastructure by prioritizing necessary expansions, renovations, and repairs throughout the community, Armstrong said.

Preparations are underway to replace and repair or replace multiple Lehigh County Bridges, including the Wire Mill Bridge, Walnut Street Bridge, Devonshire Bridge, Geiger’s Covered Bridge, Mosserville Bridge, and Manassas Guth Covered Bridge.

Construction has begun at the Cedarbrook facility in preparation for its new E-Wing. Once complete, the new 145,000 square foot, four-story, L-shaped wing will accommodate 240 residents, no more than two to a room, with access to private bathrooms.

These improvements will create a foundation for advanced resident experiences and improve medical support planning. The expansion is projected to be completed by the end of 2023.

“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, I am proud to say that Cedarbrook is one of the few nursing homes in the United States to maintain a steady 4-star CMS rating,” Armstrong said. “This means that Cedarbrook has an above average nursing home care rating compared to other facilities across the United States, ranking higher than most.”

Lehigh County’s Department of Farmland Preservation achieved a new milestone and exceeded over 26,000 acres of farmland preservation this year, Armstrong said. Additionally, the Lehigh County Office of Voter Registration is hosting free online webinars to share election information and resources to the public.

The county maintains a Moody’s Bond Rating of Aa. The stabilization fund is maintained at $25 million, preserving the county’s financial safety net, Armstrong said.

The State of Lehigh County address was made possible through the support of its sponsors: the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley, the Lehigh Valley International Airport, and Lee & Associates.

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