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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