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State Approves KOEZ Designation for 18 Lehigh Valley Locations

By LVEDC Staff on December 6, 2013

BETHLEHEM (December 6, 2013) – The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development has approved Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone status for 18 new Lehigh Valley locations, creating tax incentives to foster economic growth and development on the sites.

“Today’s KOEZ designation will pave the way for new growth and new jobs in the Lehigh Valley,” said DCED Secretary C. Alan Walker. “Across Pennsylvania, the KOZ program has spurred the creation of nearly 40,000 jobs since the program’s inception. As past designations expire, new tax revenues are being generated for the state and local communities.”

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation administers the KOEZ program in the region on behalf of the Pennsylvania DCED. LVEDC submitted a regional application to the state on behalf of Northampton and Lehigh Counties, local governments and school districts.

All 18 properties requested in the application were approved. All but one of the approved properties are located in Northampton County with the majority of them in the City of Easton. The sole Lehigh County property is the Allentown Metal Works property on S. 10th St. in Allentown, which is owned by the Allentown Economic Development Corp.

“The county and local governments identified these properties and with the support of area school districts approved KOEZ designations at the local level,” said Don Cunningham, LVEDC president and CEO. “The KOEZ requires a collaborative effort with state and local governments, school districts and the regional economic development corporation to help create real estate development and new jobs on parcels that are not currently economically active.”

The KOEZ program, which is nearly identical to the KOZ program, is intended to spur development in specific underutilized and underdeveloped areas. The approved locations include the Governor Wolf Building, the Easton Silk Mill, the Black Diamond Silk Mill, the Easton Intermodal and City Hall project, and N. 2nd St. in Easton. The former Dixie Cup building in Wilson also was approved.

“This process reflects a regional partnership in conjunction with the state,” Cunningham said.  “It takes four governing bodies participation for a site to be approved. I want to thank the counties for their leadership in the process and the Pennsylvania DCED for its support in making economic development happen in the Lehigh Valley.”

The designated parcels are eligible for benefits from the KOEZ program for a period of 10 years starting Jan. 1, 2014 and expiring at the end of 2023. A total of 17 of the 18 parcels approved are in Northampton County.

“We are all so pleased with this designation which will provide unlimited opportunities for economic advancement and the creation of new jobs,” said John Stoffa, Northampton County executive. “The KOEZ designation will allow neglected and brownfield properties to eventually return to the tax rolls.”

Of the 17 parcels, 15 are in the City of Easton.

“I am excited that the state recognizes the importance of these sites to the overall economic vitality of our city,” said Easton Mayor Sal Panto.

The Lehigh County site, known as the Allentown Metal Works, is located at 606 S. 10th St. and is currently owned by the Allentown Commercial & Industrial Development Authority, is the largest parcel of land at more than 17.5 acres.

“We are extremely pleased that the former Allentown Metal Works property has been accepted into the Commonwealth’s Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone program,” said Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “This property represents our commitment to bringing industrial jobs back to the city and the KOEZ designation provides a valuable tool to assist with its redevelopment. I would like to thank the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation for coordinating the regional application as well as Allentown City Council, the Allentown School District and the County of Lehigh for their support.”

The Pa. DCED provides the organizational framework, including the certification and operations of KOEZs. LVEDC serves at the designated coordinator for the Lehigh Valley as a single point of contact for zone facilitation.

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