Alicia Miller Karner
Director of Community and Economic Development
Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development
Economic Development Coordinator
Allyson Lehr, J.D.
Housing and Community Development Planner
Assistant to the Director of Community & Economic Development
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The City of Bethlehem's Department of Community and Economic Development encourages business location and expansion through technical and site selection assistance and financial programs. The office serves as liaison with Federal, State, and City officials and private institutions on behalf of business in related development matters.
Community & Economic Development
10 East Church St.
Bethlehem, PA 18018-6025
Phone: (610) 865-7085
Fax: (610) 865-7330
The City of Bethlehem and the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Bethlehem are seeking qualified developers interested in purchasing and renovating blighted properties in the City.
LERTA is a tax abatement program that was created in 1977 to incentivize property investment and redevelopment of difficult and undesirable properties- such as brownfield sites. LERTA creates a graduated increase in tax payments on new construction and property rehabilitation for owners of commercial, industrial, and business properties located within designated zones in the City. LERTA does require that property owners pay full land taxes, while taxes on improvements to the land grow incrementally over 10 years. The LERTA abatement applies to the tax increment from any substantial renovation or new construction, but does not make a property tax-free. Applications for LERTA may be submitted within 60 days of a building permit, but not after a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued.
Certain zones in the City of Bethlehem are targeted by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to encourage private investment, promote job growth and economic development. Pa DCED authorizes tax credits for certain specified Pennsylvania taxes to private companies making qualified investments in rehabilitating, expanding, or improving buildings or land in designated Enterprise Zones. Loans are available for property and building acquisition, renovation, and machinery and equipment purchase carry an interest rate of 3.75% for businesses located within the Enterprise Zone.
The TIF is administered by the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority (RDA). The TIF Zone includes 124 acres of former Bethlehem Steel sites, where most new tax revenue can be captured by RDA and utilized for further development. TIF funds are utilized only for projects that will be open to and used by the public. Future TIF funds will be used for the redevelopment of the Hoover-Mason Trestle, parking improvements, and infrastructure improvements at the Bethlehem Steel General Office Building, Carpenters Shop and Cold Draw buildings.
For more information on the TIF, please contact the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority at (610) 865-7055.
Pi is a startup business incubator located on the 2nd floor of a 1911 silk blouse factory in the heart of the Bethlehem's artistic and tech-savvy Southside. There are shared facilities and private, secure office suites ranging from 115 to 1,900 square feet. The building’s industrial feel is retained in wood floors, brick walls and open ceilings designed to help your creativity flow. Pi is located in a state-designated Enterprise Zone and a Keystone Innovation Zone, affording tenants substantial tax advantages, as well as qualifying them for various grant opportunities through the KIZ.
Whether you’re choosing a neighborhood for your business, or trying to identify the best use for a property that you own- the City of Bethlehem Department of Community & Economic Development can help. Through our work with organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Business Association, and Historic Bethlehem Partnership, we promote the quality of life and business in the City of Bethlehem. Our staff can help businesses identify appropriate locations or neighborhoods for a business, propose locations that best meet their needs, help existing businesses locate larger facilities or additional locations, and review potential sites under consideration by a business to identify any issues before a lease or sale. The staff can also provide maps of incentive zones such as the Enterprise Zone, KIZ, LERTA, and CRIZ, and confirm your eligibility for these services and programs.
Our staff does not work with residential properties, participate in any real estate negotiations, assist with investment strategies, steer to particular locations, or recommend specific realtors or service providers.
We work with entrepreneurs and business owners in developing their business ideas. Our experienced staff can guide you through the vast number of State financing programs and grants available to business. We can also assist with applications and compiling documentation needed to secure funding. Other assistance includes help with determining licenses, permits and regulatory requirements, available financing, workforce development, marketing, and any other steps necessary to build and maintain a vibrant business climate.
The Bethlehem Small Business Loan Fund provides financing to eligible business in order to create jobs for people who earn up to 80% of Bethlehem’s median income as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These loans are intended to be utilized as gap-financing in conjunction with other traditional funding options. Funds range from $25,000-100,000 and can be used for acquisition of property, construction, substantial renovations, and equipment purchases. Borrowers must create one full-time equivalent position for each $35,000 borrowed within three years of the loan, and submit semi-annual financial statements and employment statistics.
The Small Business Loan is administered by the Rising Tide Community Loan Fund at CACLV. For more information on the Loan Fund, please contact Chris Hudock at (484) 893-1039 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Exterior Building Improvement Loan Fund is designed to properly correct building exterior deficiencies, code violations, and to incorporate overall improvements to the building stock in our business districts. While the façade is the primary focus, improvements to the roof, sidewalks and other visible areas of the building are of importance to the integrity of the overall building and to the public safety. The Exterior Improvement Loan Program’s strength is in its ability to address the requirements of clean, safe, affordable building ownership while preserving the architectural significance of the building. Grants up to $20,000 are available for the installation of ADA compliant fixtures or the removal of barriers to ADA compliance. An additional $60,000 is available at prime minus .5% over 5 to 7 years for other improvements.
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