Vastex International Breaks Ground on New Bethlehem Manufacturing Facility
By Colin McEvoy on May 23, 2017
A Lehigh Valley manufacturer held a groundbreaking on a new facility in Bethlehem this weekend, a project that received significant assistance from the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).
Vastex International, Inc., a family-owned manufacturer of screen-printing equipment for the garment textile industry, is building a 37,500 square-foot facility in the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII, with plans for an eventual 30,000 square-foot expansion.
The $3.75 million project at 7 Emery Street is expected to create eight new jobs and retain 23 existing jobs at Vastex, which previously leased an Allentown location.
“We are very excited to finish this new factory and move in before years end,” said Mark Vasilantone, president of Vastex International. “With 32 employees and growing, Vastex needs the extra space, and the LVIP park in Bethlehem is just right.”
Vastex received a $1.2 million Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) loan for the project, at a 2.25 percent rate for the first seven years, with assistance from LVEDC’s Finance Department.
The Vastex project received assistance from the LVEDC’s Lehigh Valley Lending Network, a coalition of 17 regional banks and public lending entities that offers a single point of entry for both private and public financing.
LVEDC also helped Vastex secure $76,000 in grants for the project, including a $50,000 Job Creation Grant Program grant from Northampton County, and a $26,000 JCGP grant from the Northampton County Industrial Development Authority (NCIDA).
“LVEDC was involved in every facet of the financing for this project, and that’s part of our core mission: to be a resource for the Lehigh Valley businesses,” said Don Cunningham, LVEDC President and CEO. “Vastex is an excellent company that really illustrates why manufacturing is the top sector for economic output in the region.”
Additionally, Vastex received environmental assessment assistance from LVEDC’s redevelopment program, the Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative (LVLRI), which focuses on promoting economic development through the reuse of abandoned and underutilized commercial and industrial properties.
Vastex was founded in 1960 by husband and wife team Mike and Fannie Vasilantone, and was purchased in 1999 by their son Mark and his wife, Cindy. The company manufactures heavy-duty manual screen printing presses for starting shops to high-volume commercial printers, infrared conveyor dryers, flash cure units, screen exposing units, screen drying cabinets, washout booths, and complete screen printing shop systems.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf visited Vastex’s Allentown facility in March, during which he took a tour and spoke with employees and local leaders in a roundtable discussion as part of his “Jobs That Pay” tour.
The new building, located on 8.25 acres, includes two loading docks with room for the construction of a third, as well as two drive-in doors, a 2,000 square-foot showroom and trainign space, and 6,000 square-feet of offices, bathrooms, and breakrooms.
The Lehigh Valley Lending Network streamlines and simplifies the process for businesses seeking financing, allowing them to simultaneously access and shop commercial lending institutions and economic development resource providers, all in one spot.
Vastex was such an archetypical project for the Lehigh Valley Lending Network that Mark Vasilantone appeared in an LVEDC video released last year specifically about the program.
“It’s really been a fabulous experience,” he said in the video. “It allowed me to feel like I had somebody that was really there for me; that had nothing to gain but to see me succeed.”
J.G. Petrucci is the general contractor for the Vastex project. The company also received Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) benefits from Bethlehem’s Department of Community and Economic Development.
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