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Summit Highlights Resources Available to Lehigh Valley Manufacturers

By Colin McEvoy on March 7, 2016

LVEDC Vice President of Finance John Kingsley moderating a panel discussion at the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce‘s Manufacturing Council Summit. (photo by Lynn Olanoff/Concannon Miller)

LVEDC Vice President of Finance John Kingsley moderating a panel discussion at the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce‘s Manufacturing Council Summit. (photo by Lynn Olanoff/Concannon Miller)

There are a lot of resources out there for Lehigh Valley manufacturers trying to grow or expand in the region, including various loans, grants, tax credits, and technical assistance programs.

Those resources were highlighted by the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerces Manufacturing Council Summit last week, which was titled – appropriately enough – “Show Me the Money: Financial Resources for Manufacturers.”

About 200 people attended the event at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, which included a keynote speaker from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), as well as a panel discussion of Lehigh Valley manufacturers about the resources they’ve used to finance upgrades and expansion projects.

The panel discussion was moderated by John Kingsley, Vice President of Finance for the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), and included panelists Gary Bender, co-owner of SISD Inc. and former CEO of ABEC; Steve Follett, president, CEO and chairman of Follett Corp.; Rich Hooper, CFO of Follett Corp.; and Daniel Loikits, chairman of Dynalene Inc.

Hooper identified several resources Follett utilized in its $7.9 million expansion project. This included a $1.9 million Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) loan, $2.2 million in Pennsylvania Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund (MELF) financing, job creation tax credits, and others.

“If you’re creating jobs, there is some kind of program out there for you,” Hooper said. “All the people involved in economic development want to help. Whether at the county, the local level, LVEDC, or the state, just let them know what you’re doing and they will work with you to help meet your needs.”

Bender discussed several of the Lehigh Valley resources that have been been beneficial to SISD, including the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board’s CareerLink center, and the Manufacturers Resource Center.

“All these partners are very accessible, and if you don’t understand this stuff, reach out them, because they’re happy to help,” Bender said.

CareerLink can assist with job postings and job fairings, the hiring process, training, and such programs as “Hire a Vet” and the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program at Northampton Community College, Bender said. The MRC can assist with expense reductions and research tax credits, and helped ABEC take advantage of $7 million in tax credits, he said.

Sherri Collins, the DCED’s deputy secretary for the office of technology and innovation, delivered a keynote speech at the event. She discussed how the state helps attract manufacturers to the Lehigh Valley, including through collaboration with groups like LVEDC and the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

LVEDC and the DCED have long enjoyed a beneficial partnership. Last summer, representatives from both offices embarked on a business development tour through Western Europe. Several manufacturers from overseas have established facilities in the Lehigh Valley in recent years, including Fuling Plastics (China) and Nihon Kohden (Japan).

After the manufacturing summit program, several organizations and advisers were available during a reception to provide additional information, including LVEDC, MRC, LVWIB, Ben Franklin, the Allentown Economic Development Corporation, and the Lehigh Valley Lending Network.

TD Bank was the presenting sponsor for the event, and Capital BlueCross was the corporate sponsor. Concannon Miller served as the gold sponsor, with Freshpet as a silver sponsor, and Arbor Insurance Group and Boyle Construction Management as bronze sponsors. EBC Printing was the event’s printing sponsor.

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