National Penn Bancshares Inc. now can count itself among the newest tenants to officially call Downtown Allentown home.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony inside the new ground floor of the Two City Center building at 645 Hamilton St. on Tuesday highlighted the steps the bank took in its decision in October 2012 to move its corporate headquarters to a city that now has unprecedented economic development.
"National Penn is open for business," said Scott Fainor, president and CEO of National Penn Bancshares. "We are doing more business; we are a small piece of this entire project."
Fainor listed the many people who played a role in helping make the 11-story Two City Center office building a success, including North Star Construction, the company that built the structure, HT Lyons and the subcontractors who helped ensure the construction schedule stayed on track.
He also praised the National Penn board and all 2,000 employees, noting how the National Penn team is focused and energized and still has two more floors to occupy. National Penn will occupy the top five floors of the building by the end of May.
Eventually, the bank will have 275 employees in the building, including professionals who deal with retail, commercial, insurance, finance and wealth management.
Fainor said National Penn chose Allentown, in part, because the bank holds the No. 2 market share across the Lehigh Valley. Strategic reasons included creating a more collaborative work environment and offering a way to enhance customer service and maintain its strong focus on growing the brand.
"We felt it was the best place for us to generate economic development as a bank," Fainor said.
National Penn had been headquartered in Boyertown; the bank recently opened its new Reading Area Business Center in Spring Township.
State Sen. Pat Browne spoke about how Allentown will be looked at as an example of economic development over the next 20 years as the urban renaissance continues to shape other Pennsylvania cities.
Having a bank with a corporate headquarters in a city helps make it stronger, according to officials.
"It's been 35 years since a bank was headquartered here in the city," said Mayor Ed Pawlowski. "This is the first building of part of a nearly $1 billion investment."
Fainor thanked those who helped make the project a reality, including City Center Investment Corp., Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority, the city's council and economic development personnel and several county, state and federal officials.
"Well, we're here," Fainor said. "We did it. I'm here today with such great pride."
The companies that have moved into Two City Center include National Penn, Lehigh Gas Partners and host City Center Investment Corp.