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Two Bethlehem Development Projects Receive $400,000 in Tax Credits

By Colin McEvoy on December 22, 2017

Mark Vasilantone, owner of Vastex International Inc., which will be receiving $200,000 in Enterprise Zone Tax Credits.

Mark Vasilantone, owner of Vastex International Inc., which will be receiving $200,000 in Enterprise Zone Tax Credits.

Two Bethlehem development projects have been awarded a total of $400,000 in through the Neighborhood Assistance Program, the city has announced.

Vastex International, Inc., and Columbia Associates LLC, will each be receiving $200,000 in Enterprise Zone Tax Credits that will support their current projects, according to Bethlehem’s Department of Community and Economic Development.

The city’s enterprise zone helps to facilitate economic development and renovate blighted properties. A total of four Enterprise Zone Tax Credit awards have been granted over the past three years to projects in the city that total just under $1 million.

“These tax credit awards are a testament to the quality projects and investment taking place within the City” said Bethlehem’s Mayor Bob Donchez.

“We are glad that Vastex, a family-owned and operated manufacturer, is moved into their new facility and fully-operational,” Donchez said. “We are also excited to witness the innovation taking place at the Factory, which is spearheaded by the former CEO of Meow Mix and FreshPet Richard Thompson.”

Vastex International is investing $3.9 million to acquire 8.25 acres within Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII and construction of a 37,500 square foot facility that will allow for the relocation of their manufacturing business from Allentown.

This new facility will contain manufacturing space, a shipping area, office space, and a showroom. It is expected to create four full-time jobs within one year and allow for the retention of 30 full-time jobs. Construction began in April 2017 and has been completed.

“My wife and I are very thankful for the states assistance” said Mark Vasilantone, Vastex International CEO. “We had to dig deep to make this project happen and this tax credit will really make a difference.”

Columbia Associates LLC is investing $4.64 million for the acquisition and renovation of a 30,000 square foot facility which will be known as the Factory, a high-tech pilot production plant, quality assurance and safety laboratory, and packaging design/consumer research studio for small but growing food and beverage companies.

The Factory will be run by an operating company, Factory LLC, as a for-profit business incubator. This project is expected to initially house up to 20 employees and eventually house an estimated up to 50 employees. The property was acquired in the third quarter of 2017 and renovation has begun on the building.

“This is the first of many steps in working with the local community, the city of Bethlehem, and the State of Pennsylvania to establish a world-class innovation and scale up center for small food and beverage companies” said Richard Thompson, Founder of Factory LLC. “It will include all the required back-end services to take the burden off these companies so they can focus on what they do best and reach increased profitability faster.”

The Enterprise Zone Tax Credit will assist in forging local partnerships in the City of Bethlehem that support manufacturing, jobs that pay, and improving the quality of life in our neighborhoods, according to Fadia Halma, the Lehigh Valley Regional Director for the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development.

“Governor Wolf’s announcement to invest in projects such as Vastex International Inc. and Columbia Associates LLC demonstrates his administration’s commitment to support projects that have a direct impact on the growth and stability of our communities” Fadia said.

Any property owner, developer, or company interested in learning more about the Enterprise Zone and other economic development programs are encouraged to contact the city of Bethlehem’s Department of Community and Economic Development.

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