Southside Vision 2014 hoping for another decade to better Bethlehem
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times The Express-Times on December 12, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Southside Vision 2014 is hoping for another decade.
The partnership between the Community Action Development Corp. of Bethlehem and the city has gotten four corporate partners to invest $1.94 million into the South Side neighborhood over the past 12 years.
The organization is hoping for a new lease on life by reapplying to the Pennsylvania Department of Economic Development for a new Neighborhood Partnership Program, said Ellen Larmer, director of the Community Action Development Corp., which administers the funds.
Originally dubbed Southside Vision 2012, the organization was funded by a $1 million commitment from M&T Bank over 10 years. It was extended another two years when Just Born Inc., PPL Corp. and Lehigh Valley Health Network joined in 2008.
The money from the companies has been reinvested into the South Side neighborhood, resulting in more than $8 million worth of programs, projects and physical improvements for residents, Mayor John Callahan said today during a review of the program. In exchange for the funding, the businesses receive state tax credits.
“All this ends without the NPP dollars,” Callahan said.
The state only grants a certain number of programs annually due to the associated tax incentives, Callahan said. He doesn’t think there’s any question the state would approve Bethlehem’s renewals. It’s just a matter of lining up the corporate partner, which is necessary before applying, she said.
Larmer has heard interest from corporate partners ready to sign on but she can’t just extend the current program. The application must be submitted before June and the new cycle would start July 1.
“We have to start anew,” Larmer said. … read more.