Organization seeks investments for South Side revitalization

By Brian Pedersen January 26, 2015 at 11:32 AM

The organizers of a community and economic revitalization plan for South Side Bethlehem are looking to secure additional investments from local companies to help boost the city’s business opportunities.

With financial support of almost $2 million from M&T Bank, Just Born Inc., PPL Corp. and Lehigh Valley Hospital, the Community Action Development Corp. of Bethlehem leveraged an additional $14 million for projects, programs and physical restoration as part of a 12-year strategy for neighborhood revitalization.

According to the South Side Vision Master Plan, M&T Bank pledged $1 million to South Side Vision over a 10-year period. The project would have expired in 2012, but Spectrum Health Services of Lehigh Valley Hospital; PPL, and Just Born pledged additional contributions to extend the project until 2014.

Now, the organization is launching its South Side Vision 2024 project, a tax credit program recently approved by the state Dept. of Community and Economic Development with participation from Just Born and PPL Corp.

“We are looking for additional investors in the project,” said Alan Jennings, executive director of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley.

For this next phase of the project, the organization would like to receive $50,000 each or more from two other companies, Jennings said. So far, it has $75,000 from Just Born and $50,000 from PPL. By May, he would like to secure two other companies.

“My hope is that it would almost double the size of the program,” Jennings said.

His goal is to acquire $225,000 per year in financial support from these companies for six years.

The Community Action Development Corp. of Bethlehem uses the funds from this financial support to develop entrepreneurial training and financing seminars on how to create a business, including technical instruction.

This year, the organization plans to continue these efforts for the 2014-2024 plan, which includes providing small business training and technical support to prospective, start-up and existing business owners, developing a collaborative network among South Bethlehem businesses, removing barriers to employment and advocating for more small businesses in this section of the city.

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Photos: Bethlehem community members come together to cleanup Tranquility Park on June 25, 2014

Matt Smith | The Express-Times By Matt Smith | The Express-Times The Express-Times

Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem (CADCB) held a community planting day event with Bethlehem community members to clean up Tranquility Park on East Fourth Street on June 25, 2014.

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WFMZ News: Southside Vision Maps 10-year Bethlehem Master Plan

Southside Vision maps 10-year Bethlehem master plan

Author: , Reporter
Published: May 28 2014 12:42:40 AM EDT


Bethlehem revitalization program, Southside Vision, held a presentation Tuesday to announce their tentative 10-year development master plan for the district.

Hosted jointly by the Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem and the City of Bethlehem at Broughal Middle School, the event featured several speakers who discussed the initiative’s past and future while also opening the floor to community input.

Presenters outlined five areas of focus that they will dedicate their resources to from 2014 to 2024: community engagement and communication, housing, public spaces, economic sustainability and health and safety.

They plan to implement these by creating further local initiatives and partnerships that strengthen socioeconomic development in Southside Bethlehem.

Since launching in 2001, Southside Vision has garnered $1,942,602 in funding, mostly through a government credit program while also fielding grant proposals and outside endorsements by organizations such as M&T Bank, Pennsylvania Power and Light and the Lehigh Valley Hospital.

“I think one of the most important things over the past 10 years is we had that money coming in which was really quite a gift to south Bethlehem,” said Bethlehem Planning Director Darlene Heller. “We’d like to think it was used wisely.”

Program organizers said that they hope to build off the success of past projects that have included the Bethlehem Greenway, the Skateplaza, the Campus Square Farmer’s Market and numerous projects aimed at improving housing stock and worker skill level in the community.

Officials also remarked on how the city and its priorities have shifted in the past decade.

“If you think back 10 years ago south Bethlehem was very different than how it is today,” Heller said.

A longitudinal 12-year community survey conducted by Southside Vision found changing trends in community needs.

“Interestingly the priorities shifted,” said Heller.

Whereas in 2001 community members identified parks and youth services as top priorities for the district, in 2013 citizens place low crime rates and good police relations among the top. Jobs remained a consistent priority throughout.

Jessica Dreidstadt, the Director of the CADCB, says that the new master plan has made sure to account for the shifting tides of public interest though.

“The plan was kind of nebulous intentionally because we want it to be a response to the changing needs of our community,” she said.

The Broughal presentation was the last in a series of public meetings aimed at getting public input on the next decade of Southside Vision planning.

Prior to Tuesday five other public forums were held at different Southside parks to get community input.

“We got a really great cross section of all people that care about south Bethlehem,” said Dreidstadt who went on to say that over 100 community members attended the combined gatherings.

The Southside Vision Master Plan spanning from 2014 to 2024 will be sent to the state for final approval in mid-June.

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South-siders team up for a better neighborhood on April 14, 2014 at 7pm

Dear Neighbors,

Join us on Monday, April 14th at the Achievement House Charter School, 826 East Fourth Street (between Hayes and Atlantic Streets) at 7p.m. for a Block Watch meeting.

One of the single most important ways to prevent crime is to know your neighbors, communicate with each other and watch out for each other. For years, the City has encouraged neighbors to form official Block Watch groups to do just that. The Four Blocks International Neighborhood is continuing those efforts by bringing neighbors together to promote safety and communication.

The City of Bethlehem Police is ready to partner with you and our neighbors to provide crime prevention education and tips for protecting our homes, businesses, and each other!

Come get to know your neighbors and connect with Four Blocks International members who want south Bethlehem to be safe. We look forward to seeing you on April 14th!

For more information, contact Yari Colon-Lopez at (610) 807-9337.