South Side Vision seeks additional investment

Posted by admin - December 13, 2013 - Southside Vision 2014 - No Comments

Lehigh Valley Business

By Brian Pedersen             December 13, 2013 at 11:00 AM

While four corporations gave nearly $2 million to fuel more than $8 million of improvements to South Side Bethlehem as part of a 12-year master plan, the organizers behind the plan are looking for more private investment as they set future goals.

Coupled with this master plan is the city’s goal for a City Revitalization and Improvement Zone designation. If Bethlehem earns CRIZ approval from the state, a bunch of projects, including seven in the city’s South Side, could get a boost in private investment and offer the city an opportunity to bring in a new, specialized workforce.

If the city earned the CRIZ – which allows certain state and local taxes generated by businesses in the zone to be used to finance construction and development of a variety of buildings – it could bring $109 million worth in projects that include a hotel, convention center and Bass Pro Shops retailer at the SteelStacks site, said Mayor John Callahan.

The city should know by the end of the year if it earned the CRIZ designation.

“There’s going to be another great wave of private investment in South Side Bethlehem,” Callahan said. “Those are all jobs within walking distance.”

Besides talking about the CRIZ, Callahan spoke – at a Bethlehem Planning Commission meeting Thursday – about the accomplishments of South Side Vision 2014, a plan adopted in 2002. (Originally a 10-year plan, it was extended by two years.)

Since that time, city officials, business owners and numerous volunteers completed a host of projects, programs and physical improvements designed to enhance the quality of life in the city’s South Side.

Callahan presented a summary of what South Side Vision 2014 achieved so far and outlined future goals. The Community Action Development Corp. of Bethlehem, a nonprofit that promotes business and economic opportunities in South Side, also worked intensively on the plan and administered the money that funded the initiatives from private companies.

The corporations included M&T Bank, Just Born Inc., PPL and Lehigh Valley Health Network. Callahan said these companies provide personnel to participate on South Side Vision’s steering committee, which guides where the dollars are directed… read more.