PA Lt. Gov. highlights Shapiro Administration’s investments in workforce in Tec Centro visit

Investments in workforce development, technical training, and apprenticeships highlighted Lt. Gov. Austin Davis’s visit Thursday to Tec Centro SW in Lancaster. 

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget proposes to increase funding by $23.8 million to build partnerships between career and technical education and industries, trades and entities seeking skilled workers. 

“The governor and I want to make Pennsylvania a leader in innovation, job creation and economic development,” Davis said in a statement. “If we’re going to address the workforce shortages facing our communities, we must empower Pennsylvanians to pursue their dreams, no matter what they may be. 

“That’s why the Shapiro-Davis budget invests more into apprenticeship programs, expands vo-tech and brings career and technical training back into the classroom, to give students that freedom and help prepare them for the future.” 

A provider of bilingual education and skill training for those who are unemployed and under-employed, Tec Centro operates two workforce centers in Lancaster and one in Reading. The Tec Centro centers in Lancaster train more than 1,200 workers. 

Tec Centro plans to open a facility in Lebanon this summer, one in York later this year, and another in Harrisburg in 2024. 

State Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El said the proposed budget increase in partnerships between education and industry will build an information bridge between workers, educational institutions, and industries. 

“Workers will know what skills they need to get the jobs they want; educational institutions will design programs that teach workers the in-demand skills they need to thrive; and businesses will be able to fill their talent pipeline with highly skilled workers,” said Smith-Wade-El. “This is a smart and necessary investment in our people, our communities, and our industries that will pay dividends in the years to come.”

Bethlehem venture capital firm gets $2.5M to invest in start-ups

A Bethlehem-based company is one of two Pennsylvania venture capital firms that will make investments in early-stage technology companies, with help from $2.5 million from the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority via the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

Activate Ventures III LP is a fund that will target investments of $1 million to $5 million in approximately 30 early-stage technology companies, with an emphasis on health care-related software businesses led by tenured entrepreneurs.

The group of investors leading Activate will include Managing Partners Glenn Bressner and Todd Pietri, formerly of Milestone Venture Partners. Joining them will be Pietri’s former Milestone Partner, Edwin A. Goodman, and fellow Bethlehem venture capitalist Jeff Davidson.

The mission of the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority is to encourage and coordinate programs and investments, which advance the competitiveness of Pennsylvania’s companies and universities in the world economy. It is one of the oldest and most emulated state technology development programs in the nation, a release said.

Rick Siger, acting secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development, added: “This funding will create opportunities for early-stage technology companies to grow right here in Pennsylvania, and ensure the commonwealth remains an economic leader driving innovation on a global scale. DCED is proud to work with the BFTDA to provide funding to companies at the cutting edge of industries that drive our economy forward. Investments like these are key to the future of Pennsylvania.”

Keystone Precision Solutions, Allentown City Council and more name new appointments, hires

Wendy Beltzner, Krista Berardelli, Eric Zahniser, Mandy Tolino, Sarah Rubright McCahon and Luis Campos. PHOTOS/PROVIDED
Wendy Beltzner, Krista Berardelli, Eric Zahniser, Mandy Tolino, Sarah Rubright McCahon and Luis Campos. PHOTOS/PROVIDED –


Hanover Township, Lehigh County-based Keystone Precision Solutions named Miguel Colom vice president of operations. Colom will oversee the service, support, customer service, inside sales and information technology teams and develop the firm’s customer experience.

Economic development

Lehighton-based Carbon Chamber & Economic Development Corp. named Marianne Garritano Rustad vice president of operations. Rustad will work with chamber members, volunteer leaders, partners and municipalities to support and strengthen communities and the local economy. Kathy Henderson will continue as director of economic development. Kelley Andrade was named membership engagement and events manager. Andrade will manage membership relations and chamber and community event coordination for mixers, workshops and chamber events. Bambi Elsasser will continue as Lehighton Main Street manager and will also be membership coordinator, focusing on membership engagement in Lehighton, Weissport, Bowmanstown and Palmerton. Linda Rex was named administrative assistant. Rex will work with members and the public and provide information, event assistance and program administration. Jessica O’Donnell-Gower was named executive vice president of affiliated chambers for the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Carbon Chamber & Economic Development Corp. Dylan Shick was named a summer intern to assist in event planning and execution.

Bethlehem, Northampton County-based Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. named George Lewis special assistant to the president and CEO. Nicole Radzievich Mertz was named vice president of marketing.


Allentown City Council in Lehigh County confirmed Mandy Tolino as director of parks and recreation. Tolino is a certified parks and recreation professional and will oversee the parks maintenance bureau, recreation bureau, special events, swimming pools and the golf course. Bina Patel was confirmed as director of finance, Patel will oversee the finance and budget administration, revenue and audit, general support services, procurement, risk management, accounting and financial management, and payroll.


Bethlehem, Northampton County-based Lehigh Valley Public Media elected Luis Campos a board member. Campos is Easton’s city administrator.


Community Music School elected Michael Yeager president, James Warfel vice president, Tom Fenstermacher treasurer and Mark Stein secretary. Yeager retired as CEO of Community Insurance Co. Warfel is a retired educator. Fenstermacher is retired chief financial officer with Hospital Central Services Inc. Stein is an associate professor with Muhlenberg College. Andrene Brown Nowell and Michael S Horvath II were named board members. Nowell is a founder and executive director of Fine Feather Foundation Inc. Horvath is an associate attorney at Gross McGinley LLP.

Girls on the Run Berks County, which covers Berks and Schuylkill counties, elected Sarah Rubright McCahon chairwoman of its board. McCahon is an attorney and member of Lancaster-based Barley Snyder’s trusts and estates, elder law and business practice groups.

Reading-based Berks County Community Foundation named Cindy Milian health and human services program officer. Milian will develop and implement public health and human services initiatives. Emily Smedley was named environment and energy program officer. Smedley will manage programs and grants relating to the environment, land use and neighborhood vitality.

Upper Macungie Township, Lehigh County-based Manufacturers Resource Center named Wendy Beltzner director of leadership development and training strategy. Beltzner will lead the training and education services in leadership development and customized training strategies.

YMCA of Reading and Berks County elected Troy Rider chairman of its board. Rider is a partner with Lancaster-based Barley Snyder and concentrates on business, finance, real estate and food and agribusiness law.

Real estate

Chicago-based Cresa named Eric Zahniser a managing principal with its industrial services group. Zahniser will work in the Conshohocken office and expand the company’s presence in the Greater Philadelphia industrial market.

Tredyffrin Township, Chester County-based Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, Realtors named Michael Pintande a sales associate in the Macungie office. He will focus on the Lehigh Valley.


Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County-based The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley named Madeleine Convery sales and marketing coordinator. Convery will be responsible for digital and social media initiatives and encouraging retailers to promote their businesses as part of the center’s overall marketing plans. Krista Berardelli was named marketing director and business development manager. Berardelli will continue to oversee marketing and event initiatives and also handle local leasing initiatives. Natalia Stezenko was named senior general manager. She will continue to manage The Promenade Shops as well as Marlton Square in southern New Jersey.

-Compiled by Amy DiNunzio

Berks County hires Shupp Menet as its first director of economic development

Pamela Shupp Menet –


Pamela Shupp Menet, who currently serves as vice president of external affairs for the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, is taking over the newly created dual role of economic development director and deputy chief administration officer for Berks County.

Christian Leinbach, chair of the Berks County Board of Commissioners, said the dual position was created to have a person in place to oversee departments that have an impact on economic development such as the planning commission and airport authority while promoting job growth in the county.

Leinbach said he had heard a rumor that Shupp Menet was considering a job outside of the county and offered her the new position to keep the longtime economic professional in the county.

Her salary will come from the county’s existing economic development budget, which had been funneled into the GRCA to handle the county’s economic development efforts.

“Pam is one of the most well respected and talented economic development professionals in Pa. and it’s important that she will continue to work to grow Berks County businesses and jobs,” Leinbach said. “This hire is not costing the county any additional money since her position will continue to be funded by the annual economic development line item in the Berks County budget.”

He said while Shupp Menet will be working directly for the county starting Aug. 31, the county does plan to continue its current partnership with the GRCA for its economic development efforts.

“Pam has provided tremendous service to GRCA over the years and has achieved outstanding success with numerous initiatives that have contributed to the County’s economic growth,” said Jim Gerlach, president and CEO of the GRCA. “We are excited that GRCA will be able to continue to work with her on future, impactful economic development projects.”

Shupp Menet has more than 30 years of experience in housing, economic and community development with various private development companies and public organizations, including several years with the City of Reading, working in planning, community and economic development, and redevelopment.

LVEDC named top economic development agency for second year

Aerial view of the Lehigh Valley PHOTO/STEVE WILLIAMS PHOTOGRAPHY –

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. has once again been named one of the best in the country.

For the second year in a row, the economic development organization serving Lehigh and Northampton counties was named one of the Top 20 economic development agencies in the U.S. by Site Selection Magazine.

It was the only economic development agency in the Northeast region to be recognized and joins much larger metropolitan areas on the list, according to the LVEDC. Other winners include Dallas, Houston, Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Savannah, Ga., Charlotte, N.C., and Austin, Texas.

“This award really recognizes the tremendous economic success of the Lehigh Valley and all the employers, governments and organizations that have helped to make it happen,” said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the agency.

Adam Jones-Kelley, president of Conway, Inc. and publisher of Site Selection, said the Top 20 distinction not only reflects economic and job creation successes from the past year, but may also indicate which economies will lead the global recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.

This wasn’t the Lehigh Valley’s only recognition from Site Selection this year. The magazine also ranked Lehigh Valley the third-best region in the Northeast as part of its Governor’s Cup Awards. Lehigh Valley outranked such regions as Boston and Pittsburgh. The Lehigh Valley ranked among the Top 5 regions nationwide with a population between 200,000 and 1 million.


Former Congressman to lead Greater Reading Chamber Alliance

Most recently Gerlach served as president and CEO of the Business-Industry Political Action Committee. He had also served for 12 years in the Pennsylvania state legislature.

Former Congressman Jim Gerlach, who served Pennsylvania’s 6th District for 12 years, has been tapped to head the Greater Reading Chamber Allliance.

The Alliance is the primary business resource agency of Berks County.

As president and CEO of the GRCA, Gerlach will help the alliance with new and existing business expansion, project funding, redevelopment efforts, business-to-business promotion, workforce development and will advocate for business interests.

Most recently Gerlach served as president and CEO of the Business-Industry Political Action Committee. He had also served for 12 years in the Pennsylvania state legislature.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our community, and we rely on local industry for jobs that offer living wages and support our economy,” said Gerlach in a statement. “The Reading area is home to a thriving business community and diverse commercial and industrial enterprises. I’m looking forward to serving as an advocate for this community and supporting Greater Reading’s continued growth and prosperity.”

He replaces Randy Peers, who resigned from the post in July of last year.

Ed Swoyer, president of the Greater Berks Development Fund, and Pamela Shupp, executive vice president and COO of the GRCA, had been serving as interim co-CEOs of the alliance.

A Conversation with: Lamont McClure, Northampton County Executive

Northampton County Executive Lamont G. McClure –

Lamont McClure, a Democrat, just completed his second full year as executive of Northampton County.

Northampton County has a population of just under 303,000 and is home to many major and nationally known employers including C. F. Martin & Co in Nazareth, the maker of Martin Guitars; candy maker Just Born Inc. in Bethlehem, and art products manufacturer, Crayola Inc., in Easton.

McClure said his main economic development goals are to grow manufacturing in the county, but to manage it in a way that balances all of the county’s needs.


LVB: What industries are currently the most important to the Northampton County economy?

McClure: If you look at the statistics on employment, health care dominates in every way. We have two fine systems (Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Luke’s University Health Network) so we are very well represented.

Most business are attracted to Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII, the Chrin Commerce Center and we’re hoping the new LERTA, Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance, development in Upper Mount Bethel Township will be attracting business, too.


LVB: What are issues that are impacting economic environment in the area?

McClure: Land management. People here have had it. They don’t want to lose any more land to warehouses. Warehouses are needed, but let’s place them in areas that are already prepared for it. We’re not opposed to them. We just need to find a middle point. There’s a tension between land preservation, quality of life issues and the need to create jobs that pay living wages so you don’t need a second job to put your kids through school.

Automation is also a concern that in the next few decades it will lead to a reduction in the workforce. The point of government being involved in economic development is to create jobs.


LVB: What kind of industry would you like to attract to Northampton County?

McClure: What we’re trying to do in our partnering with the LVEDC [Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp.] is to recruit more manufacturers to Northampton County as compared to logistics and warehousing. We think business involved in manufacturing like medical devices or in the food and beverage industry and packaging will pay a better living wage and they will be here for a long time.


LVB: Do you think the Northampton County economy has room to grow?

McClure: I think our economy in Northampton County is doing good and I hope it continues to grow. I think it will grow, but we want to manage it – and say ‘these are the businesses we want to come here.’

By Stacy Wescoe

Bethlehem receives 5-year Enterprise Zone designation

Map of the Bethlehem Enterprise Zone –

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development has once again awarded a 5-year Enterprise Zone Designation to the City of Bethlehem.

The designation qualifies Bethlehem as a “distressed area” under the Neighborhood Assistance Program.

Bethlehem has been receiving the designation from the state since the mid-1980s. It is one of five Enterprise Zones in the state.

The Enterprise Zone designation helps to encourage investment in blighted, vacant, and underutilized properties within Bethlehem.

The designation comes through the Keystone Communities program and gives the city priority consideration under many of the state’s DECD programs.

It also gives the city access to the Enterprise Tax Credit Program, which Asher Schiavone, Bethlehem economic development coordinator said has been extremely helpful with economic development projects in the city.

Since 2015, there have been eight EZ Tax Credits approved for a total of $2.15M.

Projects funded through the tax credit program include work on the Flat Iron Building, the Gateway Building and The Factory.

The designation also gives businesses increased access to financing by lending institutions on mutually advantageous terms.

Eligible businesses located within the zone receive priority consideration when bidding on state government contracts, when applying for financial assistance to clean up contaminated sites under Act II and for any state resources that would assist in leveraging business investment and job creation in the Enterprise Zone.

Bethlehem Enterprise Zone Map

OraSure honored for contribution to life sciences

OraSure CEO Stephen Tang, left, speaks with Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. (Photo submitted) –

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. honored Bethlehem-based OraSure Technologies for its contributions to the life sciences industry and growth as a company that produces medical diagnostic tests.

The event took place at LVEDC’s fifth annual fall signature event Wednesday at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.


At the event, OraSure CEO Stephen Tang spoke with Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC, about the growth potential of the industry. In addition, Tang spoke about OraSure’s role as a center for life sciences research and manufacturing and how the Lehigh Valley supported those efforts.

“OraSure is improving health and wellness for people around the world by providing access to accurate, essential personal health information,” Tang said in a news release. “Our business requires employees with a wide range of skills, from manufacturing equipment operators to Ph.D.-level scientists. To recruit successfully, we need an environment where talented people want to locate.”

That environment is the Lehigh Valley, which he said, offers the location and quality of life employees want.

“Lehigh Valley is becoming a microcosm of an innovation hub,” Tang said.

With its established companies, growing startups, and numerous universities and colleges that provide access to talented employees and forums for sharing ideas, the Lehigh Valley can press its advantage, Tang said, by extending connections with surrounding areas that are hubs for talented life sciences employees.

Cunningham said life sciences research and manufacturing are a target industry sector for LVEDC recruitment initiatives and the valley is at the heart of one of the largest concentrations of life sciences workers in the nation.

In Lehigh and Northampton counties, life sciences companies such as OraSure provide more than 6,000 jobs.

In the last five years, employment in the sector grew at an annual rate of 1.7 percent, he said.

In the Lehigh Valley, employment in the sector could grow at a rate of 0.5 percent per year for the next five years, according to LVEDC.

LVEDC’s fall event spotlights a company in one of the region’s targeted industry sectors, such as high-performance manufacturing, life sciences research and manufacturing, food and beverage processing, and high-value business services.