Evonik donates $100K to support STEM education for girls

The Da Vinci Science Center of Allentown said it recently received a $100,000 sponsorship from Evonik Corp. in support of its Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Initiative. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

The Da Vinci Science Center of Allentown said it recently received a $100,000 sponsorship from Evonik Corp. in support of its Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Initiative.  

“We can’t thank Evonik enough for their ongoing support of the WISE initiative,” said Lin Erickson, executive director and CEO of Da Vinci Science Center. “In addition to their generous financial support, it is important to note that many of Evonik’s employees give their time and expertise to WISE, ensuring its continued success and growth.”  

Evonik Corp., a leader in specialty chemicals with a significant footprint in the Lehigh Valley, is dedicated to gender equality in the workplace and recognizes the importance of supporting community partners with the same commitment, said Jean Vincent, a senior vice president at Evonik. 

“Evonik is committed to supporting programs that help remove barriers for women as well as those that encourage girls to consider STEM careers. Da Vinci Science Center’s WISE Initiative focuses on both of those areas,” Vincent said.  

The WISE Initiative is dedicated to creating a supportive community of women employed in STEM fields and encouraging girls who aspire to follow a STEM career path. Through a federally funded research study, the Science Center has worked to identify barriers for girls and women in STEM and redefine how the Science Center offers and markets opportunities to girls.  

CrossAmerica Partners expands fuel business in New England market

Allentown-based CrossAmerica Partners LP has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Community Service Stations’ wholesale fuel supply portfolio in the greater Boston area.

That includes the wholesale fuel supply contracts to 39 dealer-owned locations, 34 subjobber accounts and two commission locations (one fee-based and one lease) totaling approximately 75 million gallons of fuel annually through such brands as Exxon Mobil, Shell and Gulf.

With a footprint in 34 states, CrossAmerica Partners LP is a major U.S. wholesale distributor of motor fuels; operator of seven convenience store brands; and and owner and lessee of real estate used in the retail distribution of motor fuels. It distributes branded and unbranded petroleum for motor vehicles to about 1,750 locations and owns or leases approximately 1,150 sites.

CrossAmerica Partners was formed in 2012 and has well-established relationships with several major oil brands.

“We are excited to acquire these attractive assets from one of the leading wholesale distributors in the Boston area,” CrossAmerica’s president and CEO, Charles Nifong, said in a release. “This acquisition expands our fuels business in the New England market with new dealers and strengthens our relationship with several of our major fuel supplier partners.”

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

PPL Corp., United Way launch Housing Hero campaign

The Housing Hero campaign is launched at the Sixth Street Shelter in Allentown. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

Housing has become increasingly unaffordable for many in the Lehigh Valley, but now there is an effort to help. 

The United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and PPL Corp. have announced an initiative to increase awareness and funding around the region’s growing housing crisis.  

During an event at Sixth Street Shelter in Allentown, they officially kicked off Be a Housing Hero as an added initiative to United Way’s 2022 campaign.  

In support of PPL’s United Way campaign, the PPL Foundation has committed up to $500,000 this year through a matching program for all new or increased campaign contributions.  

The funds will go directly to United Way’s work in the community to aid neighbors and families experiencing housing insecurity.  

“PPL Foundation’s pledge of up to $500,000 will provide support for thousands of people who are experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity right here in the communities we serve,” said Vince Sorgi, CEO and president of PPL Corporation and co-chair of the 2022 UWGLV campaign. “By partnering with United Way, we know that these funds will be invested into organizations like Sixth Street Shelter and others in the community whose missions align with addressing housing insecurity through prevention and intervention.” 

Additionally, PPL Foundation’s gift will apply to all new or increased participation in corporate campaigns or online donations made to unitedwayglv.org/housinghero.  

“Many people in the Greater Lehigh Valley are only one paycheck or emergency away from hunger or homelessness,” reported Dawn Godshall, executive director of Community Action Lehigh Valley. “Through the PPL Foundation’s commitment, Community Action’s Sixth Street Shelter, with vital assistance from United Way, can invest in more solutions to help the ever-growing need in our area.”  

The housing crisis in our community has increased due to many factors, including the past two years’ health and economic crises, she said.  

The Lehigh Valley’s most recent homeless reports depict a 36% increase in people experiencing homelessness in the region since 2020, including 50% more families with children and almost twice as many veterans. About 122,000 families (or 44%) are also currently experiencing serious financial instability and are forced to make difficult decisions daily, such as whether to buy groceries or pay rent. 

 “There is no doubt that the nationwide housing crisis is being felt right here in our communities,” said Sorgi. “With thousands of people at risk of homelessness or eviction, PPL Foundation is honored to help those impacted by this situation.” 

The right tech can bridge the hybrid office communication gap


With so many offices now working in either a remote or hybrid setting, organizing presentations, meetings and conferences can be challenging, but technology has kept up with the needs, said Angela Nolan, CEO of Allentown’s Vistacom.  

She said companies have just had to revisit what kinds of technology they need to keep their meetings seamless whether online, in-person or both. 

She said her company has been getting a great deal of business from companies looking to adapt their communications to meet the needs of a mixed workforce of onsite and offsite staff and to make sure they are able to best communicate with clients. 

“We’re getting a lot of requests from clients who expect that hybrid system to be permanent,” she said. “If they’re going to have a meeting, they’re also going to have remote attendants.” 

In the past companies would generally require that everyone come in for a meeting, but that just isn’t practical in today’s climate. 

In many cases, she said that means bringing the conference room to all spaces instead of just having one large room with audio-visual equipment. 

“We’re getting requests for tech in all meeting spaces instead of just one large one,” Nolan said. That way people can communicate and collaborate with coworkers no matter where they are. 

It gets a bit more complicated when clients are involved. Different companies may have different technologies they use for video conferencing. Your company may use Microsoft Teams, while your client may use Zoom or Go To Meeting. 

Nolan said it would be cost prohibitive to be on multiple systems, so many are coming to her company looking for them to develop an agnostic system that can be used with different platforms. 

“They want it to be simple, just one or two clicks,” she said. 

But, companies should be cautious when investing in new technology and make sure what they are installing is actually what they need. 

“We’re seeing a lot of frustrations from companies that spend a lot of money on a system and then it’s not doing what they want,” she said. That’s why she recommends working with a technology company to find the best fit. 

The good news, she said, is with the increase in demand for such technology, the price point on a lot of the equipment is coming down and systems easier to come by – barring supply chain delays. 

“We have some products now that you can wirelessly set up a remote meeting in a few minutes,” she said. 

Black Wall Street Lehigh Valley launches in Allentown

Black Wall Street Lehigh Valley has launched in downtown Allentown.   

Organizers said the initiative was born in direct response to the increasing needs of the Black business community and seeks to create events that have impact on Black and Brown communities.

Black Wall Street Lehigh Valley will have a business marketplace where owners can vend and promote their services to the greater community called The Legacy Market.   

In addition to the marketplace, the initiative will provide targeted opportunities for entrepreneurship education, community development, and building a legacy within the Black community.  

Membership will include “The Gold Card,” which is the first membership the initiative is offering; however, it does have plans for expanding options that will include opportunities for exposure across the valley. 

 The first community activation opportunity for the marketplace will be Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.   

Black Wall Street Lehigh Valley is also hosting an African American Business Leaders Council Mix & Mingle Aug. 31 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and people can rsvp with [email protected] 


BWE secures loan for City Center project

Rendering of Cityplace in Allentown –

Bellwether Enterprise Real Estate Capital LLC (BWE), a national commercial and multifamily mortgage banking company, said it has closed on a $20 million insurance company loan to finance the renovation and construction of Cityplace North and South, a 204-unit, two-building apartment complex in downtown Allentown. 

The project is being developed by City Center Residential. 

The North Building is a renovation/conversion of a hotel into apartments, which opened in early 2020. The South Building is a ground-up construction that will be seamlessly integrated into the existing building to form a Class A complex. The South building was 100% pre-leased prior to completion of construction, the company said. 

Steve Perricone, senior vice president in the BWE Philadelphia office, originated the loan.