Steel beams are rising for the new home of Vastex International Inc., a screen printing machinery manufacturer that's moving from Allentown to Bethlehem.
The company hosted a groundbreaking at 7 Emery St. in Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII.
It will move from 1032 N. Irving St. in Allentown once the new site is complete, which should be September, said Mark Vasilantone, president and co-owner of Vastex.
Vasilantone owns the company with his wife, Cynthia.
He bought the vacant lot on 8.2 acres, next to U.S. Cold Storage, for $850,000 and estimated the construction costs to be about $3.9 million. The manufacturing facility will be 37,500 square feet and be used to build machinery for the screen printing industry.
“The reason we decided to buy that particular space is we think this is a real growth area,” Vasilantone said. “We think the return on investment could be realized in a short time.”
He cited recent developments, such as the completion of the Route 412 expansion, as helping growth and providing smoother traffic flow. The industrial park fronts Route 412.
Other incentives include the area being within the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance program, or LERTA, which takes real estate taxes and abates them at a pro-rated amount the next 10 years. The funding incentive can be used for improvements, including new construction, to a property in that LERTA zone.
Vastex is renting the space it occupies in Allentown, and Vasilantone said the landlord will be renting it out to a new tenant.
The company has 34 employees and is looking at a 30,000-square-foot expansion to the Bethlehem site in about five years.
He found the site through Mike Adams of NAI Summit of South Whitehall Township and also received help from Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., which provided financing in the form of grants to acquire the land. Vasilantone said he received $50,000 from the Northampton County Department of Community and Economic Development and $26,000 from the Northampton County Industrial Development Authority.
He cited John Kingsley, vice president of finance at LVEDC, as someone who was like a partner in helping him get the grant money.
Vasilantone said Mark Hartney of the county DECD helped him secure the $50,000 in grant money.
Also, Vasilantone said his loan is partly financed through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority. The agency underwrote the loan and allowed him to borrow 90 percent of the project cost, he said. LVEDC also helped him acquire this loan.
According to LVEDC, the project also received environmental assistance from LVEDC's redevelopment program and help from LVEDC's Lehigh Valley Lending Network.
Bank of America was another major financial partner, he added.
The interior of the building will include 2,000 square feet dedicated to showroom and training space.
J.G. Petrucci Co. Inc., which has an office in Bethlehem, is the general contractor on the project. Steve Hull is the project manager and John Dixon is the site supervisor.
Jim Vozar is construction manager for the owner.
The law firm Fitzpatrick Lentz & Bubba of Upper Saucon Township said it has represented Vastex for many years in virtually all aspects of the business, both domestic and export and international. Most recently, FLB's attorneys worked on the construction contract, land use approvals, financing and related areas for this project, said Timothy Charlesworth, a shareholder and attorney with the firm, in a statement.