Monday, November 21st , marked a crucial day for the Lehigh Valley Economic Developement Corporation (LVEDC) and their partners. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced during the press conference a $3.4 M grant to develop the Lehigh Valley Sustainable Plan. Some of speakers at the press briefing included HUD Regional Administrator Jane C.W. Vincent, EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin, Mayor John Callahan, Olga Torres, Chair Community Action Development Corp. of Bethlehem and Allentown and Board Member of Community Action and many others.
Here are the words expressed after the press briefing by our Executive Director, Alan Jennings:
Today’s news includes articles in the local newspapers and a piece on 69 News about a HUD/EPA grant in the amount of $3.4 million for projects in each of the three cities as well as the development of a comprehensive plan for the region that is based on “smart growth” and “sustainability” standards. This is great news for the region.
I want to make sure you all know that there will be a strong public participation process in the development of that plan. RenewLV will oversee that public participation. In addition, there is an insistence that historically under-represented groups – lower-income, inner-city and minority – are actively involved. That role will fall to Community Action and I’m proud that we have the ability to introduce diversity to the process. Our best connections in the neighborhoods exist through our community development efforts led by CADC Allentown, CADC Bethlehem, and the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership. I expect that each of those groups will receive some of the funds. Olga Torres, who just became chair of CADC Bethlehem and a Community Action Board member, kicked it off by being one of the speakers at yesterday’s press conference. We thank Olga for her courage in speaking to a room full of politicians, corporate executives and reporters.
Following is LVEDC’s announcement, which has better detail than the news accounts:
Dear LVEDC Investors & Partners,
This is truly a great day for the Lehigh Valley….”
Those words belong to Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Intiative (LVLRI) Director Holly Edinger, who was pleased to announce this morning that the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) was awarded a historic $3.4 M grant from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to develop the Lehigh Valley Sustainable Plan during a news conference held at the Community Action Lehigh Valley (Community Action) in Bethlehem.
The amount was the largest the organization’s ever received.
This was by no mean a solo effort. LVEDC had the cooperation and collaboration of several very talented and important partners throughout the Lehigh Valley whose total efforts produced this regional success.
The funding was allocated to the Lehigh Valley Sustainability Consortium, consisting of 11 public and non-profit entities. The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission; Lehigh and Northampton Transit Authority (LANTA); Renew Lehigh Valley (RenewLV); the Lehigh County Department of Community and Economic Development; the Northampton County Department of Community and Economic Development; Wildlands Conservancy and the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and Community Action. LVEDC served as the lead applicant.
It is not an exaggeration that this initiative will positively impact the quality of life for all Lehigh Valley residents. The LVSC will create a sustainable Lehigh Valley by implementing the Comprehensive Plan The Lehigh Valley… 2030, which meets the definition of a sustainability plan and embodies the six livability principles. LVSC will further the adoption of the plan by promoting adoption of affordable housing policies at municipal level and fostering transit related land development to support public transportation. LVSC will also prepare an Assessment of Jobs/Housing Balance and a Regional Economic Development Plan that promotes sustainability. Throughout the development of the Regional Economic Development Plan and promotion of the Comprehensive Plan LVSC will engage the community through public participation sessions. All types of communities will be targeted in this process to ensure all populations are given voice in direction of the region.
The Consortium aims to develop stable, working communities by connecting workers with economic opportunities throughout the region and bringing jobs back to the cities. The opportunity gaps and the distributional inequalities in the region will widen unless addressed by aggressive policy that is both sustainable and transformative.
The first step of this process will be an update to the report titled An Affordable Housing Assessment of the Lehigh Valley, 2007 including data associated with Housing in the Lehigh Valley, 2008. This update will direct the implementation strategies of the Lehigh Valley Affordable Housing Effort that is housed at Community Action.
The Consortium will foster transit related land development as a key component to creating a more livable Lehigh Valley. LANTA will monitor land development and pursue ordinance changes along priority transit corridors. In addition, LANTA will be a key partner in the development of the regional Comprehensive Economic Development Plan.
A Jobs and Housing Study will be developed by LVPC and will be the jumping off point for a Comprehensive Economic Development Plan. This Economic Development Plan will focus on increasing economic competitiveness and improving the relationship between job locations and housing opportunities. An economic model will be employed to create and analyze various economic scenarios as part of this plan.
Finally, the region will become more sustainable by fostering three catalytic projects — one each in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. These projects will directly improve and support existing communities, and increase the access to jobs for these neighborhoods.
Throughout all pieces of the work plan, the Lehigh Valley Sustainability Consortium will engage the communities. By utilizing the resources of Community Action all of the partners in the Consortium will have meaningful input from under represented populations of the two counties.