Allentown asks for help in bringing industry to city

By - Last modified: November 12, 2013 at 10:49 AM

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File photo of manufacturing equipment in use at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in Allentown.
File photo of manufacturing equipment in use at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in Allentown. - (Photo By Brian Pedersen)

Allentown is looking to attract industrial jobs back to the city, and on Thursday city officials will be asking for public feedback on a strategy they are drafting.

A reindustrialization plan has been prepared by a consulting team, led by Camoin Associates of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and an advisory committee representing the city's existing manufacturing community and economic development agencies.

Mike Hefele, director of planning for Allentown, said economic development advocates have identified a need to bring more manufacturing jobs to the city.

"Manufacturing type jobs tend to have higher pay," Hefele said. "We need to create jobs where they are more accessible to city residents."

The plan is to provide well-paying jobs in areas that Allentown residents could get to by walking, biking or using public transportation.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski said changes in energy availability and higher wages overseas have led many U.S. manufacturers to eye domestic locations for their facilities.

"Allentown's interest is to capture some of that production to increase resident employment opportunities and incomes, and strengthen its tax bases," he said.

The plan was developed looking at what kind of manufacturing the city would be appropriate for, Hefele said.

"We looked at what land is zoned industrial. We don't have the capacity for these 20- or 30-acre industrial sites. We need to find out what our industrial niche is," he said.

Hefele said the study also looked at existing resources such as the Bridgeworks manufacturing incubator in Allentown and the city's workforce.

The plan has three components:

• A city-wide reindustrialization plan.

• Using that plan to create a more detailed plan for the Little Lehigh Creek corridor.

• Assisting owners of individual buildings and sites for industrial development opportunities.

Organizers of the plan are holding a public forum at 6 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium of the Lehigh Valley Health Network facilities at 2100 Mack Blvd. in the city to discuss recommendations, answer questions and solicit feedback.

The draft report will be on the city's website.

Stacy Wescoe

Stacy Wescoe

Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 104. Follow her on Twitter at @morestacy and on Facebook. Circle Stacy Wescoe on .

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