Southside Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone Wins IEDC Award
By Colin McEvoy on October 15, 2018
The Southside Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ), an area within the city that allows qualified startup companies to qualify for financial and advisory support benefits, has received an award from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).
The Bethlehem Economic Development Corporation (BEDCO) and the city of Bethlehem were awarded an Excellence in Economic Development Gold Medal for the KIZ, a project in the IEDC’s category of Partnership with Educational Institutions.
Lehigh University and Northampton Community College (NCC) were the key educational institutions that served as co-applicants for the award submission., according to Asher Schiavone, Bethlehem economic development coordinator
This marks the second time the KIZ has received this award, with the first coming exactly a decade ago. The continued partnership and interaction with Lehigh and NCC have continued to evolve and strengthen in that time, according to Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez.
“This award from the IEDC validates our efforts to strengthen bonds with Lehigh and Northampton Community College on the Southside,” Donchez said. “We have seen and will continue to see job creators and innovators graduating from these institutions and we want to make sure that Bethlehem continues to be an attractive place to launch and grow.”
Additionally, in a separate award category, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) received an Excellence in Economic Development Silver Medal for Best Annual Report (Population Greater Than 500,000) from the IEDC this year.
Craig Richard, 2018 IEDC Board Chair and President and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, said the judges received a large number of extraordinary projects this year that advanced both communities and businesses.
“We congratulate all the award winners, and thank everyone who nominated their projects for sharing their success with fellow IEDC members,” Richard said. “What we learn from each other helps us to grow and advance as a profession. We look forward to even greater participation from economic developers across the globe in the 2019 awards program.”
BEDCO and the city of Bethlehem administer the Southside Bethlehem KIZ, which provides an incentive and resources for students and entrepreneurs to launch and grow their company in Bethlehem.
Lehigh University and Northampton Community College are preparing these students with skills and knowledge for the real world with an overarching focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, Donchez said.
The Southside Bethlehem KIZ was established in 2004 and is now in its 14th year of operation. It has had a profound impact on innovation and entrepreneurship in Bethlehem by offering critical financial resources and assistance to early-stage startup companies.
To date, the KIZ has invested more than $8 million dollars in 100 companies since the program’s inception. The result of this program has been a closer bond between these partners and capitalizing on retaining our homegrown talent being fostered in Bethlehem, Schiavone said.
BEDCO was established in 1982 for the purpose of facilitating economic development in Bethlehem. BEDCO works closely with the city’s Department of Community & Economic Development to ensure a unified economic development strategy.
The IEDC awards were announced at the organization’s 2018 Annual Conference on Oct. 2 in Atlanta, Georgia. More than 1,500 people attended this year’s conference, the theme of which was “Inclusive Economic Development: Fulfilling Dreams.”
In addition to this year’s award, LVEDC previously won a Silver Award for Best Video/Multimedia Promotion, in recognition of a video it released about the Lehigh Valley’s manufacturing industry, part of a series of six videos highlighting target sectors of the regional economy.
Additionally, in 2013, LVEDC’s redevelopment program, the Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative (LVLRI), received the IEDC’s Gold Award for a Multi-Year Economic Development Program in 2013.
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