Manufacturer of LED Grow Lights Moves to the Lehigh Valley
By Colin McEvoy on February 10, 2017
After Paul Hodges started Soltech Solutions, a manufacturer of state-of-the-art LED grow lights, he conducted a comprehensive search for an attractive startup climate that would be best help his new company grow and thrive.
He went with the Lehigh Valley.
“Between the beautiful office spaces and the friendly businesses within the Pi building, we couldn’t ask for a better work environment” says Paul Hodges, CEO of Soltech Solutions, which recently established its headquarters at the Bethlehem incubator Pi: Partnership for Innovation.
“Since locating to Southside Bethlehem, we’ve also felt a significant spike in business activity and can’t help but think we have the KIZ to thank,” Hodges said. “It’s been a wonderful experience so far and we’re looking forward to continue growing here.”
Soltech Solutions was awarded a $15,000 technology transfer grant on Feb. 7 by the Southside Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ), a designated area that fosters entrepreneurial growth in coordination with the efforts of institutions of higher education.
“Paul could have chosen anywhere in the country to go. After an exhaustive search, they chose to establish their headquarters here in Bethlehem, and we are extremely glad that they did,” said Asher Schiavone, economic development coordinator for the city of Bethlehem. “The future looks bright for Soltech Solutions and we are looking forward to their growth and success.”
Hodges first learned about Bethlehem after reading about it CNN Money’s “100 Best Places to Live and Launch a Startup” list. He and fellow co-founders Mike Planner and Chris Clark had originally considered Philadelphia or New York City, but were drawn to the Lehigh Valley’s central location, affordability, available incentives, and many community resources for entrepreneurs.
“It’s been nothing short of ideal,” Hodges said. “It’s everything that we hoped for.”
Soltech Solutions will use the grant funds to build up their inventory of the Aspect, a revolutionary LED pendant light that grows plants using the photosynthetic spectrum while displaying them with museum quality light.
The Aspect is the first LED grow light developed specifically for interior design, allowing you to grow whatever plant you want wherever you want while aesthetically enhancing any indoor space.
Soltech Solutions was awarded a grant to participate in Lehigh University’s Technical Entrepreneurship Capstone program, which gives students in engineering, business, and the design arts the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary teams with industrial sponsors to design, fabricate and produce new products for a global economy.
“The TE Capstone, in cooperation with Lehigh’s Baker Institute, supports student startups through making both financial and people resources available to the team to help them launch their business,” said John Ochs, director the Lehigh’s Technical Entrepreneurship programs.
Hodges, a Temple University graduate with a degree in political science and history, formed Soltech Solutions in 2014. The company aims to develop and provide the highest standards of energy efficient products for the home and office.
Soltech Solutions and their three employees currently occupy the 232 sq. ft. space at Pi: Partnership for Innovation, a technology center located in a former silk blouse factory at 520 Evans Street in Bethlehem, located in the heart of the Southside Arts & Business District.
Since its inception in 2004, the Southside Bethlehem KIZ has helped create more than 400 new jobs and facilitated over $6 million in investment to more than 90 eligible companies. It has led to $64 million in grants leveraged, and the development of 121 new products and 116 new patents.
Pi has shared facilities and private, secure office suites ranging from 114 to 2,000 square feet. The building’s industrial feel is retained in wood floors, brick walls and open ceilings designed to foster creativity.
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