Surprise! Bethlehem, PA has become an under-rated and recently recognised
economic development opportunity.
Recently, the latest supercharged dynamo of Economic Development, Alicia Karner,
has been put in charge of Bethlehem’s Economic Development Office.
The City Council has yet to approve funding for the two additional staff members, but
don’t let that discourage you. You know you have to spend money to make money
(even if they don’t) and there are still “ground floor” opportunities available in Bethlehem
—before the economy [picks up speed.
• Sands Casino has primed the pump.
• The Third Street Alliance is attracting the Artsy Crowd (read culture) and
• Downtown is the target of CRIZ, KIZ, and BEDCO.
Do not be fooled into looking elsewhere.
CRIZ: The City Revitalisation Improvement Zone (I would have thought investment
zone). Still, don’t be discouraged. Investments are improvements. You make the
investment and the politicians will share credit for the improvements.
KIZ: Keystone Innovation Zone.
BEDCO: Bethlehem Economic Development Corporation.
The last one surprised me. 12 years ago I tried floating the idea of the Slate Belt
Economic Development Corporation, but the idea went over like a lead balloon. Still I
do have a nodding acquaintance with the Lehigh Valley. Please see my CV on my
LinkedIn Profile with the list of my activities: www.linkedin.com/in/slimfairview
Another asset is Tony Iannelli, the CEO of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of
Commerce. Recently, Mr. Iannelli told me he just returned from a business trip to
China. Need I say more?
Next, we have State Senator Lisa Boscola. Senator Boscola got her foot in the door
because her Dad worked for Bethlehem Steel. (Read: street-cred and massive local
support). However, Senator Boscola’s staying power comes from her ability to keep up
with the increasingly faster changing world of business, economics, and technology.
Also, the Senator outlasted the impediments in Harrisburg. Things are moving along at
a brisk pace.
Thought Bethlehem Steel is gone, the SteelStacks Project appears to be operating in
But wait, there’s more…
Restaurants, Bars, and Cigars—Oh my!
In addition to economic development you have restaurants such as the Melting Pot,
Blue Moon, and The Twisted Olive. For those who need a more specific point of
reference, you have The Bethlehem Brew Works where President Obama stopped for a
beer during a trip to Pennsylvania.
Aside from eateries there are two “Cigar Bar” businesses in the area. And they are not
just for those Cigar Chomping Party Bosses in smoke-filled back rooms and Derby hats
cutting deals. You can enjoy a Pleiades or a Macanudo Prince Philip Café with a coffee
or a Calvados. Derby hat optional.
Housing is moving along at a cheerful pace. And you won’t have to bear the shame of
living in a McMansion. While they may be called Millennial Mansions by some, there is
abundant land for development and the homes are situated on ample-sized lots
routinely adjacent to or near one or more of the areas many country clubs. Conversely,
there are many historic homes both in and out of historic districts, with the original wide
plank floors and beamed ceilings just like the homes we used to see on This Old House.
Horse and buggy upgrades are available—don’t ya know.
Sports! It is my understanding that there are may sports venues offering a variety of
athletic events. However, I am not a sporty sor of person, so you'
The key people in the area, as I said, are
Alicia Karner, I would give you her phone number but I’m not sure if the Council voted
to provide funding for a telephone.
Tony Iannelli, and Senator Lisa Boscola are in the book.
And don’t let the Big Investors scare you away. The Shoo-fly pie is big enough for SMEs
and B2Bs to enjoy a slice.