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Low-rate financing available thru LVEDC

By LVEDC Staff on November 27, 2012

(This story originally appeared on Lehigh Valley Business. You can find it here.)

The Lehigh Valley is a unique place. In fact, it’s so unique that you won’t find it on a map. From a cartographer’s perspective, we really don’t exist. Of course, we know what it is – it’s two counties, three cities, and 62 municipalities.
And that adds up to one Lehigh Valley. In certain contexts, it can include the counties of Berks or Carbon or Schuylkill and, in some cases, even parts of New Jersey.

In the end, the precise boundaries don’t matter. What matters is the concept behind the Lehigh Valley.

The name represents a region. Its very essence defines regionalism. That was the precise intent when 17 years ago area business leaders created the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. It was a brilliant idea.

In the mid-1990s we were known only as our component parts of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. Our external image – and some of our economic reality – wasn’t that good.

Bethlehem Steel was on a course toward its ultimate end. Mack Trucks had moved much of its operation south. Billy Joel had hurt us with a catchy but overblown portrait of Rust Belt America.

When the national media came they wanted boarded up windows, vacant factories and unemployment lines.

It was the Lehigh Valley Partnership, an organization of the presidents and CEOs of the largest corporations and institutions based here, that created LVEDC. We owe them a great debt of gratitude.

The brilliance of the idea behind LVEDC’s founding was its mission: a regional name. A regional brand. And, a one-stop shop of business and government together with a singular mission to market ourselves and to make it easier for businesses to grow here and to come here.

The idea was that we could grow quicker and better and create new jobs to replace those that we lost faster if we worked as one. The idea has worked.

Among other things, today LVEDC has a region-wide loan pool and a consortium of banks and financial institutions that work through an experienced LVEDC finance staff to offer some of the most creative and attractive solutions to grow and create businesses and jobs.

We often hear about the inability of businesses to get financing as an impediment to growth in today’s lumbering national economy. The consortium that LVEDC leads of nearly all the major Lehigh Valley banks is breaking down many of those barriers.

Just recently, Coca-Cola in Upper Macungie Township was able to install a new production line through the help of LVEDC financing.

Today, much of the Powerade, Vitaminwater and Fuze sold here – and from Maine to North Carolina – is produced right here in Lehigh Valley. The project assured the retention of 78 full-time jobs and the creation of another 50.

LVEDC administers more than a dozen financing programs aimed at assisting growing businesses in the Lehigh Valley. Many of the programs are currently offering fixed rates at or near their historic lows.

The Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority program, which finances real estate acquisition, construction and renovation for manufacturing, industrial, warehouse/distribution and large office real estate projects, is now priced at 2.25 percent fixed for 15 years and can finance up to 70 percent of a total project cost to a maximum loan amount of $2 million.

The Small Business First program, set their rate, through the third quarter of 2012, to 2.75 percent fixed. This program can finance up to 50 percent of a total project cost to a maximum of $200,000 for a variety of business types to finance real estate, machinery and equipment and working capital related projects. Terms can be up to 15 years.

LVEDC is also a Certified Development Company, which allows us to administer the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 504 program. This program is available to almost any credit worthy small to medium-size business and can finance up to 40 percent of owner-occupied real estate and long-term machinery and equipment project costs at rates as low as 3.70 percent.

The SBA 504 program also provides long-term fixed rates with terms of either 10 or 20 years depending on the useful life of the asset.

To learn more about these and other financing programs go to the LVEDC website, lehighvalley.org, or call the Loans Division at (610) 266-0887. Pre-application forms and program specifics are available on the website.

Don Cunningham became president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation on July 9, after serving six-and-a-half-years as the elected Executive of Lehigh County, where he restructured the county’s economic development operations to make economic growth and community regionalization the focus of his administration.

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