Southside Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone wins IEDC award

Pi is a business incubator located in the heart of the Southside Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ), which allows qualified startup companies to qualify for multiple financial and advisory support benefits.

The Bethlehem Economic Development Corporation (BEDCO) and the city of Bethlehem were awarded an Excellence in Economic Development Gold Medal for the KIZ, a project in the IEDC’s category of Partnership with Educational Institutions.

This marks the second time the KIZ has received this award, with the first coming exactly a decade ago. The continued partnership and interaction with Lehigh and NCC have continued to evolve and strengthen in that time, according to Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez.

“This award from the IEDC validates our efforts to strengthen bonds with Lehigh and Northampton Community College on the Southside,” Donchez said. “We have seen and will continue to see job creators and innovators graduating from these institutions and we want to make sure that Bethlehem continues to be an attractive place to launch and grow.”

“We congratulate all the award winners, and thank everyone who nominated their projects for sharing their success with fellow IEDC members,” Richard said. “What we learn from each other helps us to grow and advance as a profession. We look forward to even greater participation from economic developers across the globe in the 2019 awards program.”

BEDCO and the city of Bethlehem administer the Southside Bethlehem KIZ, which provides an incentive and resources for students and entrepreneurs to launch and grow their company in Bethlehem.

Lehigh University and Northampton Community College are preparing these students with skills and knowledge for the real world with an overarching focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, Donchez said.

The Southside Bethlehem KIZ was established in 2004 and is now in its 14th year of operation. It has had a profound impact on innovation and entrepreneurship in Bethlehem by offering critical financial resources and assistance to early-stage startup companies.

To date, the KIZ has invested more than $8 million dollars in 100 companies since the program’s inception. The result of this program has been a closer bond between these partners and capitalizing on retaining our homegrown talent being fostered in Bethlehem, Schiavone said.

BEDCO was established in 1982 for the purpose of facilitating economic development in Bethlehem. BEDCO works closely with the city’s Department of Community & Economic Development to ensure a unified economic development strategy.

The IEDC awards were announced at the organization’s 2018 Annual Conference on Oct. 2 in Atlanta, Georgia. More than 1,500 people attended this year’s conference, the theme of which was “Inclusive Economic Development: Fulfilling Dreams.”