New study outlines plan for Pennsylvania town to bring in manufacturers

A new study has outlines reasons why the city of Allentown, Pa., should lure new manufacturers to town.

Funded by a U.S. Housing and Urban Development grant, the study was introduced by Camoin Associates at a public forum on Nov. 14. The goal of the plan is to help reinvigorate Allentown's industrial sector by swaying manufacturers to bring their business to the town. Senior Vice President of Camoin Associates Jim Damicis said at the forum that the city is prime for manufacturing jobs because it is familiar with that industry.

"You truly are a manufacturing city in a manufacturing region," Damicis said. "You're not trying to go out and recruit something you've never had before."

Specific areas businesses can call home
The study pinpoints the former Mack Trucks World Headquarters and Allentown Metal Works as prime spots to add new manufacturers. Damicis said these spaces already have established themselves as perfect areas for businesses and that a growing, hungry workforce are more than enough reasons for new manufacturing jobs to come to town.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski is on board with this plan and attributed improved technology, rising overseas wages and energy availability as reasons why the town should do their best to bring in new manufacturers.

"Allentown's interest is to capture some of that production, to increase resident employment opportunities and incomes, and to strengthen its tax bases," Pawlowski said in a statement.

This plan is currently in its first stages and one of the biggest areas of the study involves improving the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center. The center is the home to six startup companies that have employed 24 full-time and part-time workers. AEDC Economic Development Specialist Anthony Durante said this study will shine a light on the city's need to improve its industrial sector.

"I think it will reinforce what we have been preaching in regards to the need for more industrial space, as well as the sizes and types of space that is needed," he said in a statement. "And it will give us a good look at the incubator – what we do well, what we need to improve, and how we can do a better job recruiting startup companies that can graduate into employers in the City of Allentown."

Plan is still in first phase
Allentown currently has approximately 87,000 jobs and roughly 6,450 of those are manufacturing jobs. The Express-Times reported that one of the main drawing points for manufacturers to come to Allentown is because it has lower labor costs than New Jersey and existing buildings will be cheaper to use than new buildings.

The Nov. 21  plan was a draft of the initial plan and Camoin is reaching out to citizens in order improve or tweak parts of the plan.