Thursday was a big day for economic development in the Lehigh Valley.
About a dozen Lehigh Valley organizations received a share of a $1.45 million grant to support manufacturing, create job pipelines, reduce blight and stimulate economic growth and development through various initiatives in the region.
Given by the BB&T Economic Growth Fund at the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, the funds were distributed throughout the day at eight news conferences and check presentations across the Valley.
“BB&T has a long history of supporting our local business and academic communities,” Scott V. Fainor, BB&T community banking group executive, said at a news conference Thursday morning in Bethlehem. “… We believe BB&T’s investment will play a significant role in the future health and prosperity of the Lehigh Valley.”
Fainor was speaking at the Goodman Building at 30 E. Third St., a blighted property that will receive a grant for rehabilitation.
In conjunction with the BB&T/National Penn Bank merger last year, $2.5 million were donated to the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation to establish the BB&T Economic Growth Fund. The fund awards grants to initiatives that will improve the standard of living and economic health of the Lehigh Valley through business attraction and incubation, industrial growth and creation of sustainable and thriving wage jobs.
At the news conferences, BB&T officials and the Community Foundation were joined by elected officials and representatives of the recipient organizations and their partners.
It was not disclosed when the remaining $1.05 million will be awarded.
The recipients of the $1.45 million:
• Bethlehem Economic Development Corp., in collaboration with Bethlehem, Northampton County, Lehigh University and the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley. A $250,000 grant will create a revolving loan fund to remediate blighted properties in Bethlehem.
• Lehigh Valley Industrial Park, in collaboration with Northampton County and Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. A $250,000 grant will benefit construction of the Bethlehem Manufacturing Center.
• Ben Franklin Technology Partners, in collaboration with Lehigh University’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity & Innovation. A $100,000 grant will help fund the expansion of the Lehigh Student, Faculty & Alumni Collaboration Area and the mission of the Baker Institute and its business incubator.
• Northampton Community College. A $200,000 grant will help fund initiatives at the NCC Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
• Lehigh County, in collaboration with Lehigh Career & Technical Institute. A $100,000 grant will be used for the technical institute’s workforce development scholarships.
• Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The $50,000 grant will help fund the Western Hamilton Street Gateway project.
• Allentown Economic Development Corp., in collaboration with Allentown, Lehigh County and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. The $250,000 grant will help fund the redevelopment of the Allentown Metal Works site.
• Easton, in collaboration with Northampton County, Lafayette College, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. and Greater Easton Development Partnership. A $75,000 grant will be used for parking and hotel studies to enhance tourism in Easton, and $125,000 will be used for the master plan for the proposed Da Vinci Science City Architectural & Exhibits in the city.
• Cedar Crest College. A $10,000 grant will benefit its student employment center.
• DeSales University. A $10,000 grant will benefit its health care program scholarship fund.
• Lehigh Carbon Community College Foundation. A $10,000 grant will help fund dual-enrollment classes with Allentown School District.
• Moravian College. A $10,000 grant will be used for the BB&T Fellows Program.
• Muhlenberg College. A $10,000 grant will benefit its Business Accelerator Complex.
Speakers at the events included Fainor, Bernie Story, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, Bob Donchez, Bethlehem mayor, Ed Pawlowski, Allentown mayor, Sal Panto, Easton mayor, and representatives from each lead grantee organization.
“We are delighted to have partnered with BB&T in assessing the many opportunities for support, and we know this effort will have an impact throughout the entire community,” Story said.