Five new affordable townhomes will be built at the former site of the Glendon Hotel in Glendon Borough, Northampton County.
County Executive Lamont G. McClure and the Northampton County Department of Community and Economic Development announced they received $200,000 from the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) to construct affordable townhomes at the former hotel site.
The CFA Board approved grants through Local Share Accounts established by the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act (Act 71 of 2004).
“The Local Share Accounts Program supports projects that promote economic development, community development, and public interest throughout the Commonwealth, and I’m pleased the Glendon Hotel project was selected,” McClure said.
The Glendon Hotel Affordable Housing project will result in five 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom townhomes. Further funding for this project will be sought through Pennsylvania HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) funds and through an investment of Federal HOME entitlement funds. McClure said.
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.
Northampton County is holding a resource fair for small business owners in April.
County Executive Lamont G. McClure said Northampton County, along with the Small Business Development Center and Northampton Community College will hold the fair from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. April 27 at Northampton Community College to provide business owners with the opportunity to network with resource providers.
The training topics will include business financing, business start-up/pre-planning, exporting, human resources/managing employees, legal issues, managing a business, marketing/sales, selling to government, small, disadvantaged businesses, woman-owned businesses, and more.
To register for the free event, contact Northampton County DCED at (610) 829-6306 or [email protected].
Lehigh Valley and central Pennsylvania are among the regions hosting projects that were awarded funding Tuesday from the Shapiro Administration for clean transportation.
In Dauphin County, Aero Corp. is receiving $300,000 for six DC fast chargers at Harrisburg International Airpoirt for Aero’s fleet of rental electric vehicles. The chargers will also be available to other car rental companies.
In Northampton County, Bethlehem Parking Authority has been awarded $15,000 for two electric cars for parking enforcement.
The state’s Highland Electric Fleets has been granted $75,000 for 10 electric vans and $225,000 for 20 DC fast chargers.
In all, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) awarded a total of $1.5 million in 2022 Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant (AFIG) funding to help the state’s businesses, municipalities, and schools switch to clean transportation and improve air quality.
DEP Acting Secretary Rich Negrin said in a statement that the Shapiro Administration is committed to growing Pennsylvania’s economy while protecting the state’s constitutional right to clean air and pure water.
“A growing number of organizations and businesses in Pennsylvania want to lower their transportation emissions,” said Negrin. “Today’s announcement demonstrates a shared commitment between the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and our local communities and businesses to improve air quality, address climate change, and increase the use of renewable energy across the Commonwealth.”
The AFIG program aids businesses, municipalities, and nonprofit organizations in the use of clean transportation to replace older gasoline or diesel fueled vehicles. Recipients of this grant will replace 88 old gas or diesel vehicles with 78 electric and 10 renewable natural gas vehicles and install 36 chargers for electric vehicles.
Gasoline and diesel vehicles currently generate 47% of nitrogen oxides emissions in Pennsylvania, contributing to ground-level ozone that affects the health of children, older people, people who work or are active outdoors, and people with asthma, emphysema, or other lung conditions.
In all, the transportation sector comprises 22% of Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Putting additional zero- and low-emission vehicles on Pennsylvania roads is aimed at reducing harmful air pollutants and lowering the level of carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases heating the climate.
The Lehigh Valley’s median renter qualifies as cost burdened when it comes to housing these days, as affordability plummets. Households are considered cost burdened when they spend more than 30% of their income on rent, mortgage and other housing needs.
In Northampton County, the median housing cost ratio for renters was 30.1% (an estimated 32,729 occupied rental units) while it was 30.7% in Lehigh County (an estimated 48,003 occupied rental units).
Over 19 million U.S. renter households spent more than 30% of their income on housing costs in 2021, according to data from the 2017-2021 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates.
The burden was especially high in some of the nation’s largest counties where housing is pricier or in areas where incomes are low.
The ACS collects a variety of housing cost information for renters (monthly rent and utility bills) and for homeowners (mortgage principal and interest, real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance, utilities, mobile home costs, second mortgage payments and condominium fees if applicable).
Homeowners in most of the country had a lower median cost burden than renters.
High housing costs can impact the amount of money households are able to save or use for other expenses. The ACS data show that renters were particularly vulnerable to cost burdens.
Part of the reason that rental housing cost is so high, as a percentage of income, is the lack of homes to purchase, combined with higher interest rates.
Loren Keim, president/broker of Century 21 Keim Realtors, wrote in an email: “There’s an old adage that says you are always buying a house, whether you’re buying one for yourself or you’re buying one for your landlord. And rental rates are a function of supply and demand. The current demand is very high, leading to upward pressure on rental rates. These increasing housing costs directly impact how much money households can save and how much disposable income each household has.”
Consumers have to make a decision whether to buy or rent, he said, and the lack of affordability is affecting home sales, too.
“Housing affordability in the Lehigh Valley dropped to the lowest level since I started tracking it in 2005, at only 79,” Keim said.
An index of 100 means median household income is 100% of what is necessary to qualify for a median-priced home under current interest rates. “A higher number means greater affordability. At a level of 79, that means the median household income won’t qualify with current interest rates for the median-priced home. This index has been at or above 100 since we started tracking in January of 2005, and in fact was above 200 at several points between 2011 and 2015.”
“I expect rental rates to continue to rise, although slower than the last 18 months, for several reasons,” Heim said. “In the Lehigh Valley, although there are several multifamily projects in development or under construction, there is still a low vacancy rate, leading to competition for those rental units. Additionally, developers and investment property buyers are paying more for construction and borrowing at higher interest rates to build projects, which drives their costs higher, which is passed onto the tenant.”
Rising rents can be explained by several factors, he said. The costs to maintain apartments, including lawn care, snow removal, landscaping, repairs and renovations, has also jumped. “The cost of utilities, for those landlords paying for utilities, has risen. All this leads to increased landlord cost, which is being passed along to the tenants in the form of higher rental rates.”
Anecdotally, Keim said, this has led some tenants to move farther from the Lehigh Valley into areas like Carbon and Schuylkill counties in order to find lower rents.
A Northampton County Company is relocating and consolidating its operations with some help from the state.
CryoConcepts, a manufacturer of portable cryosurgery and cryotherapy products, is moving from its current Bethlehem facility to a larger location in Forks Township.
The project is expected to create at least 61 new jobs, the company said.
Governor Tom Wolf announced the plan on Thursday.
“Having an innovative, pioneering company like CryoConcepts chose to grow their operations in Pennsylvania speaks volumes about our business environment and how it empowers companies to succeed and thrive here,” said Wolf. “It’s also a testament to the great work that the Governor’s Action Team has done throughout my administration to attract new businesses and also help keep companies like CryoConcepts in the commonwealth.”
CryoConcepts will move from its 7,519-square-foot Bethlehem facility to a 23,275-square-foot facility in Forks Township, consolidating operations.
“CryoConcepts is committed to expanding its manufacturing capabilities in the Lehigh Valley,” said Sam Niedbala, CEO of CryoConcepts. “The Governor’s Action Team helped us navigate to our new facility, along with support for training our expanding workforce. Because of their great support, we’ve been able to quickly ramp up to meet our production needs.”
The Department of Community and Economic Development offered the company a $400,000 Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority loan, a $183,000 Pennsylvania First grant and a $50,000 workforce development grant to train workers.
In addition to the new jobs that will be created in Northampton County, the state said CryoConcepts has committed to retaining 28 existing, full-time jobs statewide and investing $1.6 million into the project within the next three years.
“I’m glad that DCED and the Governor’s Action Team could help get this project across the finish line and keep this manufacturing company here in Pennsylvania,” said DCED Acting Secretary Neil Weaver. “CryoConcepts is a growing, trail-blazing company that will help bolster economic growth in the Lehigh Valley region.”
Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding encouraged farmers, small agricultural cooperatives, aquaculture businesses and other small businesses and non-profits to apply for low-interest federal loans to help them recover from losses due to excessive heat and draught between June 18 and Sept. 14 of this year.
Following U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s four disaster declarations for New Jersey counties, USDA Farm Service Agency disaster recovery loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are now available in adjacent Pennsylvania counties Bucks, Delaware, Monroe, Northampton, Philadelphia and Pike.
Farmers and other agriculture producers are eligible to apply for USDA disaster recovery loans. Nurseries are eligible to apply for SBA loans to recover from drought-related damage. Businesses not eligible for USDA emergency loans may be eligible for SBA loans.
“These vital federal resources can mean the difference between surviving and going under after bouts of increasingly severe weather,” said Redding. “Just as we hope agriculture businesses don’t leave money on the table that helps them assess their risks, diversify revenue and plan for growth, we would encourage Pennsylvania businesses to take advantage of federal loans to help them recover from severe weather.”
Loan amounts can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 2.935 percent for small businesses and 1.875 percent for private nonprofit organizations, with terms up to 30 years.
Applicants in Pennsylvania should search for current disaster declarations in New Jersey – four declarations cover different PA counties and date ranges — and follow directions to apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ela/s/
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.
Bethlehem has received a $50,000 beautification grant to enhance the city’s Payrow Plaza for the holiday season.
The Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce’s Main Street Foundation and Citizens Christmas City Committee received a hotel tax grant from Northampton County and additional funds from local partners for major holiday enhancements.
Thousands of new eco-friendly LED lights will outline the rotunda and the library.
A gleaming 15-foot-tall star will light the nights throughout the holidays. The star has an attached bench making it the perfect place for some holly jolly photos.
The star, designed and installed by Rileighs Outdoor Decor, a Lehigh Valley Business, is made from eco-friendly LED lights.
“As we continue implementing the City of Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, we are thrilled to be welcoming the first of hopefully several new eco-friendly holiday decorations in the City thanks to Northampton County and the Citizen’s Christmas City Committee,” said Bethlehem’s Director of Mayor’s Initiative Angela DelGrosso Stein. “We are excited to display the new eco-friendly star on Payrow Plaza where the community can interact with the piece while spreading the spirit of sustainability.”
The star is scheduled to be installed on Nov. 17, the day before Bethlehem’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony which will begin at 5 p.m.
During the event, the Citizens Christmas City Committee will also unveil this year’s holiday trellis. The display features custom engraved ornaments celebrating life milestones like marriages and new babies. This year’s ornaments feature candles in windows, the beloved Moravian tradition.
“I’m so excited to combine classic Bethlehem traditions like those window candles, with new traditions like visiting this gorgeous new star,” said Tammy Wendling, vice president of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce.
Two Northampton County companies have been approved for low-interest loans through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced the approvals this week, along with four other PIDA loans to support business growth.
Continental Cup Co. LLC, through Lehigh Valley Economic Investment Corp., will receive a 10-year $210,000 loan at 3.75% fixed interest rate to buy machinery and equipment, including a lid automation system; dome lid mold; die cutter and punching machine; forklifts; racking system; pumps; and other small equipment, which will be installed at its manufacturing facility at 1920 Spillman Drive, Bethlehem.
Total project cost is $491,562, and Continental Cup has committed to create 44 full-time jobs and retain 27 employees within three years.
Green Leaf Productions Inc., through Lehigh Valley Economic Investment Corp., will get a 10-year $945,000 loan at a 3% reset interest rate to acquire a 10,450-square-foot office building at 161 North Commerce Way, Hanover Township. The project site, which will be used as a full-service multimedia production facility, will provide Green Leaf with more production space and allow it to expand.
Total project cost is $2.1 million, and the company has committed to create 25 full-time jobs within three years.
So far this year, a release said, PIDA has approved more than $41.5 million in low-interest loans, producing almost $91 million in private investment and supporting 998 created and retained full-time jobs.
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.
A full-service auto repair business is expanding into Forks Township, Northampton County, to accommodate its growth.
Partners Dave Fiore and Sherief Elsamra bought the old Forks Diner at 3315 Sullivan Trail for $650,000. Plans, they said, are to convert the 5,000-square-foot property into a 6-bay auto repair shop to be called Your Mechanic PA LLC.
Lehigh Financial Group, LLC in Allentown arranged more than $1 million for the partners to acquire the property and convert it into an auto repair shop.
Fiore and Elsamra had been looking for a second location to accommodate their growing repair business for some time when their real estate agent Kristie Bauder of Iron Valley Real Estate of the Lehigh Valley informed them that the former diner was on the market.
“Because we were doing well in our first location, we wanted to expand our services to Forks Township,” Fiore said.
Fiore and Elsamra opened their first auto repair shop, Wrenchtec at 20 E. Lawn Road in Nazareth, four years ago. They are looking to open the new shop by early spring, they said.
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