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LVEDC Travels State to Share Success Stories of Redevelopment Program

By Colin McEvoy on May 19, 2015

Representatives from the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) traveled to the other side of the state last week to share the success stories of the organization’s brownfields redevelopment program.

LVEDC was invited to participate in the Pennsylvania Brownfields Conference. Held in Erie, it is the state’s largest forum about land use planning, community renewal, remediation technology and the redevelopment of brownfield sites.

This is not the first time LVEDC has been invited to discuss its redevelopment program. It also will be participating in the 2015 National Brownfields Conference, which will be held in Chicago from September 2 to 4. LVEDC was one of 150 programs selected from around the world to be participate in the national conference, from a highly competitive field of about 425 applicants.

“The fact that we’ve been asked to participate in these conferences reflects the strength of LVEDC’s redevelopment program and the success the Lehigh Valley has experienced in rehabilitating brownfields,” said Don Cunningham, President and CEO of LVEDC. “Marketing and developing brownfields is a central part of the regional economic development strategy.”

Cunningham and Andrew Kleiner, LVEDC’s director of redevelopment and external affairs, gave presentations at the Pennsylvania Brownfields Conference. Cunningham’s discussed the NIZ and CRIZ tax districts in the Lehigh Valley, while Kleiner focused on the Slate Belt YMCA project in Pen Argyl.

LVEDC, through an EPA assessment grant, provided $52,000 of financial assistance for the Pen Argyl project, as well as helping secure a Targeted Brownfields Assessment through LVEDC’s redevelopment committee, the Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative (LVLRI).

The Pennsylvania Brownfields Conference is hosted by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Engineer’s Society of Western Pennsylvania. It ran from May 13 to May 15 at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie.

Among the topics discussed at the conference were public funding assistance programs, containment remedies, manufacturing from shale gas development, stormwater planning and vapor intrusion mitigation.

The Lehigh Valley was well represented at this year’s conference. In addition to LVEDC’s presentations, the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park, on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel, and Allentown’s Coca-Cola Park were nominated as “Best of Act 2” projects.

LVLRI is focused on promoting economic development through the reuse of abandoned and underutilize commercial and industrial properties.

Over the last 15 years, LVLRI has seen 3,000 acres of contaminated land remediated, over $400 million of leveraged funding based on years of successful U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant wins, and the creation of about 1,200 jobs, according to Kleiner.

LVLRI accomplishes brownfields redevelopment in several ways, including helping site owners and developers identify financial assistance for environmental assessment and remediation work at brownfield sites, and by assisting on technical matters such as grant/loan application preparation, environmental work plan preparation, and the completion of buyer/seller agreements.

Additionally, LVLRI serves as an intermediary between all parties involved in a brownfield transaction, and maintains an inventory of underutilized commercial/industrial properties throughout the Lehigh Valley. Fostering economic development while protecting human health and the environment is one way in which LVEDC works to support sustainable development.

The LVLRI is an advisory committee comprised of municipal officials from cities, boroughs and townships in both Lehigh and Northampton counties, as well as brownfield experts, regulatory agency representatives, private developers, engineers, and consultants.

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