The City of Allentown’s Reindustrialization Plan
and the proposed Little Lehigh Creek Corridor Economic Development Planning project examine potential to bring quality manufacturing jobs back into the city. The Little Lehigh Creek Corridor is the area along the Little Lehigh Creek from the Lehigh River to 15th Street. The project’s objective is to create sustainable economic development for the City’s residents as well as build municipal tax bases.
The project is designed to provide opportunities responding to the following issues:
Providing jobs, raising incomes and growing the tax base:
For a city of many low and moderate income residents and recent immigrants, the needs of a citizen’s access to employment and ability to increase income is important, especially in a city that grew by 11% between 2000 and 2010.
Providing jobs where the people are:
The Allentown program makes it possible to recreate the nexus between home and work, and reduces energy use. Why should low and moderate income workers need to spend more for transportation or be restrained to suburbia’s and exurbia’s limited public transportation options? The ability to walk, bike, or use City public transportation routes from home to work and back again is fundamental to the project and to greater employment opportunities for city residents.
Creating sunrise business:
By reviewing the current business incubator through the grant’s resources, the City and AEDC will explore opportunities to create the next generation of growing Allentown employers. The Bridgeworks incubator can continue to serve as an important resource fostering entrepreneurship and business development, as well as benefit the community through employment and fiscal growth.
Building where the infrastructure is in place:
Sustainable economic development is enhanced by maximizing the use of existing urban infrastructure, and not creating the need where it may not be needed. In Allentown the roads and public utilities are in place, so why duplicate them to promote growth in sub- or ex- urbia?
Using existing and serviceable resources instead of new:
Recycling land and reusing buildings reduces resource waste, and maintains and grows the City tax base.
Planning with nature:
Avoiding flood plains and other sensitive areas is especially important for a project area influenced by both the Little Lehigh Creek and Lehigh River.
The City of Allentown issued an RFP in early 2013 for a consulting firm to oversee the development of the project described above. The city has chosen a consulting firm and will begin work with them, including public outreach efforts, by the summer of 2013. Allentown will also be working closely with Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) and their partners to utilize the employment gap and economic development data discovered through this summer's analysis. Stay tuned for specific outreach dates and locations. Additionally, the City of Allentown has purchased the Allentown Metal Works site to be included in this project and will be applying for the Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) program.
The City of Allentown retained a consultant team to prepare a citywide re industrialization strategy (Phase I) and apply the strategy to the Little Lehigh Industrial Corridor (Phase II). The consultant team is led by Camoin Associates and includes Bergmann Associates, Thomas P. Miller and Associates, and Innovation Policyworks. This project is managed by City staff and guided by a project advisory committee that includes eighteen public and private sector individuals knowledgeable of Allentown's industrial economy.
To begin Phase I of this project, the consultant team, with guidance and support from City and Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) staff, collected information through interviews, focus groups, economic data collection and analysis, web research, windshield surveying, building walkthroughs, and reviewing existing planning documents. Key findings, recommendations, and strategies are provided in this summary report. The appendices contain the body of work collected and developed by the consultant team, which supports the recommendations.
Allentown's Re‐industrialization Strategy will be immediately followed by Phase II of this project, which is to take the strategies and recommendations developed and apply them to the Little Lehigh Creek corridor in a neighborhood redevelopment plan. Finally, Phase III will focus on the Allentown Metal Works complex and include pre‐development work such as a building and site conditions assessment, a financial feasibility analysis, and a fiscal impact study. These site‐specific studies will be used to create a redevelopment strategy for the site complete with a step‐by‐step action plan to guide redevelopment.