Comcast is expanding its Xfinity 10G Network to more than 1,200 homes and businesses in the Borough of Coopersburg in Lehigh County, with completion of the project expected this month.
These customers will have access to Comcast’s full suite of services, including Xfinity residential broadband speeds up to 1.2 gigabits per second and Comcast Business speeds up to 100 Gbps.
“We are proud to make this investment in Lehigh County,” Dan Bonelli, senior vice president of Comcast’s Freedom Region, said in a release. “Bringing high-speed and reliable Internet access to Coopersburg, and extending our services in Lehigh County, will help ensure that more residents and businesses have the important broadband connections they need for their educational, professional and personal lives.”
Residential customers will be able to take advantage of Xfinity’s full suite of Internet products, including supersonic WiFi technology from powerful gateways, xFi Advanced Security, Xfinity Mobile, and Flex, a 4K platform for Internet-only customers that seamlessly delivers streaming content.
Comcast said the Xfinity 10G Network with next-generation Xfinity gateways delivers the most advanced WiFi technology, carrying three times more bandwidth to power streaming, gaming, videoconferencing and more simultaneously.
For local businesses, Comcast Business offers a suite of connectivity, communications, networking, cybersecurity, wireless and managed solutions to help organizations of different sizes, the release said.
Over the last few years, Comcast invested $2.4 billion in Pennsylvania to improve and expand its network. Comcast’s expansion in Lehigh County is the company’s latest investment in eastern Pennsylvania.
Electronic sports (esports) are introducing students in high school and higher education to careers in gaming, software, and STEM-related jobs, and a Lehigh lawmaker looks to make esports accessible to every student across the state.
Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, was part of a roundtable discussion held Wednesday by the House Majority Policy Committee to learn more about the billion-dollar industry and its impact on the state’s economy and education. While esports teams exist throughout Pennsylvania at the high school level, the cost of these programs includes thousands of dollars in equipment and supervisors and poses challenges to economically disadvantaged school districts.
Schlossberg has authored legislation to create a sustainable funding stream to support extracurricular programs for students across the state.
“At first glance, esports might look like only video games, but one of the greatest aspects of extracurricular activities is to create an atmosphere where students build friendships and learn outside a classroom,” Schlossberg said in a statement. “Esports not only provides those opportunities, but it also exposes students to new digital technology and presents the possibility – like traditional sports – for students to earn college scholarships.”
Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Philadelphia, said esports can provide the spark that encourages academic and emotional development in students.
“One of the most exciting aspects about esports, for me as a legislator and Latino, is its potential for an equitable solution to our strikingly low number of Black and Hispanic workers in STEM-related careers,” said Burgos, chairman of the Policy Subcommittee on Progressive Policies for Working People.
“Esports attract a diverse group of students, regardless of race or gender, and it has proven itself as a gateway into encouraging young people to pursue STEM education as well as STEM-related careers.”
Developing familiarity with digital technology at a young age is another aspect of esports. Studies show that Black youth make up the largest portion of the gaming teenage community, yet Black workers account for only 9% of the jobs in STEM-related fields.
“Esports offer students another chance to interact and learn alongside their peers,” said House Majority Policy Committee Chairman Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie. “It also has the potential to bring together a diverse group of students, and it encourages an interest and understanding of the science and digital technology being used at their fingertips. Esports also offer a tremendous economic opportunity for Pennsylvania.”
During the roundtable discussion, the House Majority Policy Committee heard from experts and business leaders on the esports industry and its potential positive effects on Pennsylvania’s economy and workforce.
Six Lehigh Valley companies will share part of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s $1.1 million investment in regional economic development.
Ben Franklin Northeast will invest $100,000 in Venseca Inc., Lehigh County, an early start-up cybersecurity platform that creates a comprehensive network of trust between service providers and the organizations that use them by creating standardized, independent cybersecurity risk assessments and evaluations of suppliers’ cybersecurity risk postures. The funding supports product development and go-to market execution, Ben Franklin Northeast said.
Three established manufacturers will receive 1:1 matching funding for work with a college or university partner, Ben Franklin Northeast said.
BRD Noise and Vibration Control, Northampton County, which designs and manufactures materials for noise and vibration control for large commercial HVAC systems and industrial equipment, will receive $10,000 to support the implementation of parametric drawings which will enable the company to improve the productivity of engineering resources, on-time delivery and resource utilization, customer service, quality of product, and support top-line growth plans.
Straight Arrow Products, Northampton County, which produces hair and skin care products for the equestrian and human markets, will receive $20,000 to support the implementation of new modules to their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to enhance forecasting and reporting.
Both companies will partner with Lehigh University’s Center for Supply Chain Management.
US Specialty Formulations, LLC (USSF), Lehigh County, a biotech firm, commercializing an oral-mucosal vaccine, QYNDR, which recently successfully completed its Phase I clinicals, will receive $25,000 and partner with Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center.
Ben Franklin Northeast said this oral vaccine targets multiple COVID-19 variants and may be adapted to other viruses such as flu, Group A Strep and RSV. USSF also produces sterile injectable pharmaceuticals for hospitals, physicians, and is a key supplier in the perfusion market.
The investment supports implementing an electronic quality control system to improve its operational workflow and tie into its anticipated new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
In addition, Ben Franklin Northeast will invest in early-stage companies as part of the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). These projects were financed, in part, from Pennsylvania Small Business Credit Initiative funds from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development.
LifeAire Systems, Lehigh County, which manufactures air purification equipment for the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), hospital, long term care, and life science markets, will receive $340,000 to continue new product and technology development, increase inventory, and improve its supply chain, Ben Franklin Northeast said.
Spoke Sciences, Northampton County, which develops technologies to deliver insoluble lipidic ingredients in water-based formulations, will receive $400,000 to support and scale up research, development, and commercialization efforts.
A full-service bakery is opening in the Slatington Farmers Market in Washington Township, Lehigh County.
Wild & Free Bakery will celebrate its grand opening March 24 with the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce, partner of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce,
Wild & Free Bakery offers cupcakes, breads, cookies, and gourmet pastries, and custom orders. The bakery is owned by Matt and Connie Hoffman of Palmerton.
“The chamber is always excited to shine a spotlight on great new businesses in the area, but this may be guaranteed to be the sweetest new business we have this spring,” said Kylie Adams-Weiss, assistant vice president of Affiliated Chambers for the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. “Connie and her team offer up delicious baked goods to the community, including beautifully decorated cakes and cupcakes, savory croissants and breads, and so much more. We’ve been proud to work with them in past events with the chamber and in upcoming events, too!”
Connie Hoffman is founder of the company and has carried a passion for food and pastries from a young age. She is a graduate of Carbon Career & Technical Institute in the Culinary Arts field, studied Pastry Arts at The Restaurant School of Walnut Hill College and finished her education at Lehigh Carbon Community College for Hospitality and Resort Management, the chamber said.
Her husband and business partner, Matthew, handles the behind-the-scenes of the business.
The grand opening and ribbon cutting will take place from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Slatington Market Place. The event is open to the public.
“Ribbon cutting ceremonies are some of our favorite events,” said Jessica O’Donnell-Gower, executive vice president of Affiliated Chambers for the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. “It’s the perfect opportunity to spotlight the hard work that has gone into the creation of a business, and to bring the community out to celebrate one another’s accomplishments. We could not be more excited to celebrate with Wild & Free Bakery!”
Andy Gildner, owner of Keystone Technology, LLC, and chair of the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce, said, “The Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber is proud to welcome Wild & Free Bakery to our footprint and we look forward to supporting them in their growth for years to come.”
Allentown native Nick Beers found a niche and turned it into a growing business.
Smooth Gear, a lifestyle clothing company in Slatedale, Washington Township, Lehigh County, not only designs and prints a line of clothing and sneakers but provides printing services for others looking for custom jobs.
Smooth Gear weathered the COVID-19 pandemic and is growing revenue year over year. Beers, who still works a fulltime job, said he hopes to go fulltime into this venture in the next two to three years.
Last year, the company grossed $35,000 which was up from $25,000 in 2021 and $15,000 in 2020, he said.
“Most of the revenue comes from the custom printing side. That allows us to continue to grow our line of clothing and sneakers,” Beers said.
In fact, Beers said he started with printing jobs for 10 shirts with a one-color design. Now, he takes orders for 500-600 shirts with multi-color designs.
“A week ago, I got an order for an 11-color design which proved to be a challenge, but because of the design, we were successful,” he said.
The idea for a line of clothing came from a project in a high school graphic design course where Beers designed and screen printed a T-shirt with his nickname “Smooth” on it. “I really liked having my own brand,” he said.
Admitting he is not the graphic designer; he enlisted the help of his cousin Chad Holschwander to do the design work. The two went to Drexel University together where they continued to design, print and sell clothing heavily influenced by hip hop, sports, sneaker and streetwear cultures.
After graduating, Beers moved to Mechanicsburg where he continued to grow the business in his basement with a one-color screen printer. He said after a short time, he was out of space.
He and his wife, Kate, bought a house in Slatedale from Holschwander, who refurnishes properties. “I bought the property because the warehouse was there,” he said.
The warehouse, which Smooth Gear refers to as Smooth Gear Creative Lab, is three stories with room for Beers’ new six-color screen printer and sewing equipment. He said it also has room for photo shoots to market his clothing line.
The business, since 2014, has grown through word of mouth. Beers said he made a move at the end of last year to grow the business through direct sales by attending trade shows and pop-up shops.
“We did a pop-up at Corporate which is a sneaker boutique in Cincinnati, Ohio,” he said. “It was a marketing effort really, but we were also hoping for sales.”
Beers said his wife is pushing the marketing aspect of the business in hopes of getting the Smooth Gear name out.
“Our target audience for the clothing brand and sneakers is the 16-35 age demographic. A subset being people who are also interested in fashion, athletics and the sneaker culture,” he said.
“We created our own silhouette, so it’s exclusively a Smooth Gear brand sneaker,” Beers said that he puts his designs on.
Looking forward, Beers said the company is looking to get into retail stores to increase exposure to the brand.
“This is our passion,” he said. “Sometimes I look back and see what time and money I’ve put into this and wonder if it’s worth it. But when I travel and see people wearing our stuff, it definitely is.”
As our economy continues to slowly emerge from a once-in-a-century pandemic, it’s no wonder business owners feel uneasy about financial decisions that were once considered routine.
Demand for goods and services continues to outpace supply. Businesses face labor shortages that have led to the strain of increased wages. Supply chain challenges are delaying projects and business cycles. The Fed is trying to squash inflationary pressures by raising interest rates.
All of these factors have contributed to today’s uncertain economic climate, and 2023 may present similar challenges. As a business owner, it may be hard to come to grips with the fact that you can’t be in control of all the external economic forces working against you. That’s why your focus needs to be on what you can control. Of course, none of us has a crystal ball to predict the future, but there are tangible, strategic measures businesses can take to blunt any negative impacts.
The first step is to get a clear view of your business’s solvency by closely monitoring profit and loss, operating expenses, and revenue streams. Pay attention to how each of these fluctuates based on seasonal activity, the impact of inflation, the change to your cost of capital and discretionary spending trends.
Develop multiple business plans for different scenarios. It’s good to have a primary operating plan, but also have a backup in case the economy takes a sudden downturn or makes a faster-than-expected rebound on which you can capitalize. In either event, a working capital line of credit can help normalize cash flow irregularities and provide funding when revenues decline or are delayed.
If you’re in the services sector, be sure to listen to your clients and understand their challenges. They’re excellent predictors of the year ahead, and opening up lines of communication allows you to explore better ways to partner with them.
Smooth cash flow problems by reducing payment/receivable cycle time. Establish new ways to get paid, such as an e-commerce storefront, automated clearing house (ACH) and business-to-business card payments. The goal is to ensure you have a payments partner that settles quickly and gets your funds to you fast.
With employee recruitment a continuing challenge, revamp your hiring process to handle ongoing churn issues. A new process should include faster training and integration to continue your company’s ability to protect operations and, of course, revenue streams.
Keep an open line of communication with your current employees. Listen to their ideas and show them you value their counsel and dedication. One or two good ideas could change the course of a company’s future forever. Added communication and appreciation also can go a long way to keep your team together at a time when the job market continues to be volatile.
Lastly, be open and flexible to new ways of doing business – and revisit previous ideas. Opportunities previously discarded might be the perfect fit now.
Just remember, as a business owner, you cannot always predict the future, but with a few simple steps and an open mind, you can prepare for any potential outcome to help protect your company and valuable employees.
Heather Hall has more than 20 years of success in the financial and banking industries in the capital region and is executive vice president at Mid Penn Bank, which has offices in Lehigh, Bucks, Berks, Montgomery and Schuylkill Counties, among many others.
The Greater Valley YMCA has received a $3 million federal Community Project Funding grant it will use to help establish the Saucon Creek YMCA for residents in the southern part of Lehigh County.
The grant came through the office of U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District. The Community Project Funding requests were incorporated into the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 and were approved in Congress and the Senate.
“The new YMCA space in southern Lehigh will not only provide quality childcare programs to set our kids up for success but will also serve as a community space to gather, connect, and develop the foundations for a healthy life,” Wild said. “Making childcare more affordable, accessible, and reliable is a critical issue to our community.”
Wild said she would like to thank David Fagerstrom, Peter Dent, and Greater Valley YMCA for their collaboration in working to secure this funding.
“I would also like to recognize the Y’s tireless volunteers like Jennifer Johnson, Samantha Falcone, and Dr. Kathleen Hutnik who have played a crucial role in making the Saucon Creek Y Project a reality,” Wild said.
The grant will support the pre-construction and land development costs (including environmental and geotechnical engineering services, site development, and utility connections), as well as initial construction costs.
“This is a huge step to help establish the Saucon Creek YMCA”, said Fagerstrom, president/CEO of the Greater Valley YMCA. “We are so grateful to Congresswoman Susan Wild and her office for all the work that went into securing this funding for our organization. These types of projects simply cannot happen without this type of support.”
Once the new Y in the southern region of the Lehigh Valley is established, it will positively impact tens of thousands of residents over the next 100 years, Fagerstrom said.
“Congresswoman Wild’s efforts to secure funding, to help bring the project to fruition, will leave a legacy of changed lives and a strengthened community. We cannot thank her enough!” he added.
Fagerstrom will be speaking about the project at an Open Community Forum event on Jan. 11 at 7:00 p.m. at Southern Lehigh High School, 5800 Main Street in Center Valley. The goal of the event is to encourage residents to learn about the proposed Greater Valley YMCA Saucon Creek YMCA Branch and to offer feedback on desired programs and services to best serve the community.
Allentown native Nick Miller will be the youngest senator in Pennsylvania to take office in 135 years when he is sworn in Jan. 3.
The self-professed community servant said he wants to “be a sponge” and learn all he can about the way Harrisburg operates so he can make Lehigh and Northampton counties and all of Pennsylvania the best place possible for all who live and work there.
Just 28 years old, Miller said he has gotten a lot of help from members of the state Senate since his election and will “pick their brains” on how to best conduct business. “I have a lot to learn in my new role,” he said.
Miller said his mom, a Lehigh County judge, taught him the importance of giving back and he sees his new job as the next step in community service.
The Penn State graduate recently earned his master’s degree in public administration from the University of Pennsylvania. He has been an ambassador to the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, a volunteer with Community Bike Works, a volunteer at a local food bank, and has served on the Zoning Board and the Blighted Property Review Board in Allentown.
He has also worked with the Northcentral Pa. Launch Box and the Council of Retail Sales because he sees small business as a foundation for a strong community.
A former member of the Allentown School Board, Miller said, “Education is the foundation of the community, and our school district is not fully funded. It falls on the House and Senate to fund education.”
Fully funded schools, he said, lower the tax burden on residents, improve community safety and support the local economy.
Miller said he is looking forward to getting his committee assignments, which he expects to be handed out this week. His interests are veteran’s affairs, transportation and housing and urban affairs.
“I think those would be useful and impactful,” he said. “We are very diverse here in the Lehigh Valley, from downtowns to rural areas so I’d like to be involved with the affordable housing issue and look forward to finding out how the state can fill the gap.”
Miller, who has a background in finance, said he might be put on the finance committee as well. “We’ll have to wait and see.”
When asked about the growth in warehousing and distribution in the area, Miller said infrastructure “is crucial.”
More importantly, he said, “balance is key. We need to invest in our infrastructure and protect the green space so people can enjoy our parks and green spaces.”
A Realtor, Miller said he also wants to work on ways to increase affordable housing. “With the post-pandemic demand for housing and the interest rates, it is challenging for people to afford housing.”
To that end, he would like to work across the aisle to continue to support tax-free savings accounts for first-time homebuyers, offer relief for homeowners so they can stay in their homes and expand eligibility for property rebates.
Miller also said he would like to see blighted properties in the area cleaned up and possibly converted to residential spaces.
When not working, Miller said he loves to travel. He has been to 49 countries and has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. When not exploring the world, Miller said he enjoys hanging out with family and friends with his girlfriend.
Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster County) has announced three new bills becoming law.
House Bill 2633, now Act 139, refines an existing law allowing the compensation of student athletes for the use of their name, image, or likeness (NIL). It includes a provision removing language prohibiting schools from arranging NIL deals for their student athletes and requiring students to share the contract with their school for at least seven days prior to the execution of the contract.
Martin said it is a small but important clarification that provides student athletes more agency over their private contracts and the financial rewards they earn.
“In the absence of national standards around NIL compensation by the NCAA or Federal law,” Martin said in a statement, “we must do everything we can here in Pennsylvania to make sure every student athlete that chooses one of our schools is treated fairly.”
The U.S. Supreme Court decision a year ago in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) v. Alston provided a path for student athletes to be compensated for NIL usage. Still, no national standard was established for a way that was appropriate and equal. States were left to enact their own rules, and Martin authored Act 26 of 2021, along with Sens. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks County) and Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh County).
“Our institutions of higher education continue to work with students to help them navigate the new law and promote and protect themselves,” said Martin.
Also becoming law last week, Martin said, was legislation that will provide educational credits to dentists who volunteer at free clinics and charity events. Martin’s Senate Bill 1173 became Act 159 and allows professionals to claim up to three hours served at a volunteer clinic or a charitable event as credit for continuing education. After passing unanimously in the Senate in June, it was approved in the House of Representatives last October.
“Those who participate not only hone their skills but expose themselves, in many cases, to progressive dental emergencies that arise from lack of routine care,” Martin said. “I believe this type of volunteerism should be encouraged and its value should be properly recognized.”
Poor oral health has been linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and overall health and wellbeing, according to multiple studies. Martin said volunteer opportunities provide crucial access to underserved populations who often fall through the cracks in the existing health care system and face poorer outcomes.
“This law not only improves the healthcare of many of our constituents in the short term,” said Martin, “but as mentioned before, it would go a long way to preventing long-term diseases, which of course means less of a financial burden on Pennsylvania taxpayers as a result.”
In addition, Martin said a bill clarifying license plate obstruction violations became law last week to prevent the criminalization of thousands of drivers overnight.
“You can look around any parking lot and you will see many vehicles with custom frames surrounding their license plates, often issued by their car dealers or of their favorite sports team,” Martin said, referencing a recent Superior Court decision in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Derrick Ruffin.
The decision involved a panel of three judges ruling justifying a Philadelphia police officer’s decision to pull over a vehicle because a custom license plate frame blocked the state’s tourism website from view.
“That decision meant that any one of those drivers could be pulled over with probable cause,” said Martin. “That wasn’t the intent of lawmakers, and certainly wasn’t fair to our motorists or our police departments. I’m pleased this law now fixes that for all parties involved.”
To that end, Martin sponsored Senate Bill 1357, stipulating that plate obstructions only apply to important identifiable information. It was amended into House Bill 1486 and became Act 112 after becoming law with the Governor’s signature.
The state Department of Agriculture Thursday said nearly $7.5 million was invested in protecting 24 farms from future development.
The money from state, county, local governments protected 2,046 acres from commercial, industrial or residential development. The acquisition brings the total protected land to 616,713 acres on more than 6,100 farms.
The newly preserved farms are in Berks, Bucks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Wyoming and York counties.
“Every dollar spent protecting prime farmland from development is an investment in our economy, our environment, our quality of life, and our ability to feed Pennsylvania’s families and economy,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Preserving land resources is one of the most important investments we make together, across every level of government, hand in hand with farm families investing to guard their legacy of daily hard work and sacrifice to feed us all.”
Farm families often sell their land at below market value, donate additional land, or agree to conservation practices on their farms in order to leverage additional federal and state money to preserve more family farms, the Department of Agriculture said.
Pennsylvania partners with county and sometimes local governments and non-profits to purchase development rights, ensuring a strong future for farming and food security and leading the nation in the number of preserved farms, the department said.
Notable farms preserved at Thursday’s PA Land Preservation Board meeting include:
John W. Marsteller Jr.’s York County crop farm is the third farm preserved by the family, bringing the family’s total protected land to more than 1,400 acres. Southern York County is experiencing intense residential development pressure as a bedroom community for Baltimore commuters.
Other farms preserved today and dollars invested by county include:
Berks County –Total investment – $923,414, state – $878,389, county – $45,025
The Mark B. Latshaw Farm, District Twp., a 180-acre crop farm
The David A. Yost Farm, Upper Tulpehocken Twp., a 122-acre crop farm
The Peter A. and LeAnne L. Zettlemoyer Farm, a 59-acre crop and livestock farm
Cumberland County –Total investment – $467,204, state – $9,347, county – $117,532, township – $340,325
The Thomas D. Moyer Farm #1, Silver Spring Twp., a 118-acre crop farm
Dauphin County –Total investment – $832,861, state only
Bechtel Farms, Halifax, a 123-acre crop farm
The Eli L. and Sadie M. King Farm, Mifflin Twp., a 93-acre crop and livestock farm
The John Neagley Farm, Washington Twp., a 165-acre crop farm
The Darryl Rode Farm, Halifax, a 62-acre crop farm
The Gerald F .and Linda K. Wiest Farm #2, Lykens, a 39-acre crop farm
Lancaster County –Total investment – $1,574,265, state only
The Benjamin Joel and Alisha Danae Nissley Farm, Mt. Joy, a 130-acre crop and livestock farm
The Fred L. and Connie L. Ranck Farm #1, Strasburg, a 33-acre crop farm
The Fred L. and Connie L. Ranck Farm #2, Strasburg, a 111-acre crop farm
The Matthew K. and Kelly L. Wiker Farm, Martic Twp., a 123-acre crop farm
Lehigh County – Total investment – $366,371, state – $356,371, county – $5,000, township – $5,000
The Michael G. and Karin M. Bowman Farm, Heidelberg Twp., a 26-acre crop farm
The Adam B. and Amanda L. Dietrich Farm, Lynn Twp., a 44-acre crop farm
Northampton County –Total investment – $466,534, state – $21,777, county – $227,100, township – $197,657
The Moore Township #5 Farm, a 43-acre crop farm
The Walter M. Jr. and Melody A. Schlegel Farm, Plainfield Twp., a 40-acre crop farm
York County – Total investment – $1,001,978, state – $775,583, county – $226,395
The Robert B. and Judy K. Burchett Farm #4, Chanceford Twp., a 104-acre crop farm
The Lydia M. Manifold Farm #2, East Hopewell Twp., an 84-acre crop farm
The John W. Marsteller, Jr. Farm #1, Hopewell Twp., a 149-acre crop farm
Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program recently secured a $7.85 million grant from the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program to support climate-smart conservation on preserved Pennsylvania farms.
The dollars will further multiply the Wolf Administration’s investments in conservation in the 2022-’23 budget, which devotes $220 million to the new Clean Streams Fund. The fund includes $154 million to establish a new Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program supporting farmers’ efforts to reduce water pollution and improve soil quality, and $22 million to increase funding for the existing Nutrient Management Fund, which supports technical assistance to farms to reduce run-off.
Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Acting Secretary Neil Weaver today announced the start of the Bringing the World to PA event (BTW2PA).
The event is a two-week,10-stop tour across the commonwealth that allows the opportunity for Pennsylvania businesses seeking export assistance to connect one-on-one with Pennsylvania’s Authorized Trade Representatives (ATRs).
“International trade is a critical facet of Pennsylvania’s thriving business climate,” said Weaver. “Through Bringing the World to PA, the Wolf Administration aims to provide more Pennsylvania businesses with the support they need to grow and prosper by breaking into international markets.”
Starting today and continuing through Sept. 23, DCED’s Office of International Business Development (OIBD) is working with its Regional Export Network (REN) to bring ATRs from around the globe. Each day, ATRs meet one-on-one with Pennsylvania companies seeking foreign market intelligence, agent and distributor candidates, industry and government contacts, as well as on-the-ground assistance abroad.
In 2021, Pennsylvania businesses exported $44.7 billion in goods, with top export destinations including Mexico, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan, Weaver said. To help facilitate and grow trade operations in the commonwealth, OIBD operates 13 overseas trade offices at locations across the globe covering 45 countries.
Among the locations for Bringing the World to PA are The National Civil War Museum, Dauphin County, and the Iacocca Conference Center, Lehigh County.
For more information on participating visit OIBD’s website.
Pennsylvania protected 784 acres on 18 farms in nine counties from future development today, investing more than $3.166 million in state, county and local dollars to ensure that prime farmland is not lost to development.
Pennsylvania has now protected 6,094 farms and 614,668 acres in 58 counties from future commercial, industrial or residential development.
The 18 newly preserved farms are in Berks, Centre, Chester, Erie, Lebanon, Lehigh, Northampton, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
“Preserving farmland is an investment in our economy, our environment, our quality of life, and our future food security,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “We’re proud of that investment and we owe these farm families a debt of gratitude for making a decision that guards their family legacies and benefits all of Pennsylvania.”
By selling their land’s development rights, landowners ensure that their farm will remain a farm and never be sold for residential, commercial or industrial development, Redding said. Farm families often sell their land at below market value, donate additional land or agree to conservation practices on their farms in order to leverage additional federal and state money to preserve others’ family farms.
Pennsylvania partners with county and sometimes local governments and non-profits to purchase development rights, ensuring a strong future for farming and food security and leading the nation in the number of preserved farms. Since 1988, Pennsylvania has invested more than $1.6 billion to protect open, green spaces and food production for the future.
Among the farms preserved today are:
Berks County –Total investment $157,936 state, $24,150 county.
The Sharon P. Cameron Farm, Centre Township, a 31-acre crop farm.
The David L. and Linda J. Nirschl Farm, Penn Township, a 34-acre crop and livestock farm.
Lebanon County –Total investment $710 state (owner donated land).
The Sue Ellen and John T. Bowman Farm, North Lebanon Township, a 1-acre crop farm.
Lehigh County – Total investment $337,396 state, $556,536 county, $ 212,500 township.
The Susan M. and Edwin C. Gardner, Jr., North Whitehall Township, Farm, a 17-acre horse farm.
The Robert A. Schmidt Farm, North Whitehall Township, a 50-acre crop farm.
The Kevin L. Smith Farm #4, Washington Township, a 12-acre crop farm.
The Marshall M. Mangold Farm, Lowhill Township, a 94-acre crop farm.
Northampton County –Total investment $267,879 state, $160,882 county, $239,102 township.
The Richard B. and Lois P. Kerbacher Farm, Moore Township, a 57-acre crop farm.
The Kyle J. Kerr Farm, Washington Township, an 11-acre beef farm.
The Carol Nagy Smith and Stewart C. Smith Jr. Farm, a 20-acre crop farm.
The Dianne L., Marshall A., Hope D. and Donald W. Woolverton Sr.; and Jayann M. and Jeffrey W. Kerr Farm, Washington Township, a 52-acre crop and livestock farm.
Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program recently secured a $7.85 million grant from the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program to support climate-smart conservation on preserved Pennsylvania farms, the Department of Agriculture said.
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