Callahan Announces Tech Hub Plans For Former Bethlehem Steel Annex

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan announced Thursday the city and Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem are in discussions to turn a five-story former Bethlehem Steel building into a technology hub.

The $30 million project, known as Tau, would provide office space for as many as 450 employees working for several companies in an annex building of the Steel General Offices on E. Third Street.

The 125,000-square-foot annex, built in 1952 and the home for Steel’s main frame computers, has been vacant for years and was last used in the 1990s as a temporary classroom for elementary students.

“Tau will recast the former Bethlehem Steel General Office Building East Annex as a fully integrated technology center which attracts companies in every stage,” Callahan said.

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Majestic Developer Plans 1.75 Million-Square-Foot Warehouse At Former Bethlehem Steel Site

California billionaire Ed Roski Jr.’s company plans to build what could become the Lehigh Valley‘s largest warehousing facility on a remote part of the former Bethlehem Steel plant.

Plans scheduled to go before the Bethlehem Planning Commission next week show a 1.75 million-square-foot warehouse and manufacturing facility at 3215 Commerce Center Blvd.

That’s nearly 50 percent bigger than the 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse Liberty Property Trust built last year on another portion of the former plant, and nearly twice as big as the Nestle warehouse off Interstate 78 in Lehigh County.

Pete Reinke, vice president of business development at Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., said he knew of no other warehouse in the Valley bigger than what Majestic is proposing.

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Lehigh Heavy Forge Deal Could Bring 100 Jobs To Valley

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the U.S. moves forward in bolstering its nuclear technology and power grids, one of the Lehigh Valley‘s longest-standing manufacturing companies stands to benefit in terms of job creation and expansion.

Bethlehem-based Lehigh Heavy Forge, the only remaining super heavy forging operation in the country and the largest open die forging process in the Western Hemisphere, will see more jobs come on line in the next 10 years as the result of a partnership announced Wednesday with the Babcock & Wilcox Co., a provider of clean energy technology to nuclear and renewable power markets.

At a press conference Wednesday at the company facility adjacent to the Sands Casino on grounds once occupied by Bethlehem Steel, company President Jim Romeo said Lehigh Heavy Forge will see about 100 engineering and manufacturing jobs created by 2022 as a result of the contract with Babcock & Wilcox to provide forgings for small modular reactors.

“It is with great anticipation that we look forward to our partnership with B&W,” said Romeo, who was joined at the podium by Christofer Mowry, president of Babcock & Wilcox mPower, and Gov. Tom Corbett.

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Bethlehem Approves $10 Million To Improve Old Steel Plant

The Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority approved this week a $10 million bond that will help pay for the next round of infrastructure projects for redeveloping Bethlehem Steel property.

The projects include hundreds of new paved parking spots and an elevated walkway on what was once known as the Hoover Mason Trestle. The century-old trestle was used by Steel to move fuel from the ore yard, where the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem sits, to the blast furnaces, which is now the backdrop for indoor and outdoor concerts at SteelStacks.

“We want to make sure the investment we make is both strategic and relevant enough that it will stimulate additional development on the site,” said Tony Hanna, executive director of the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority.

The project totals nearly $16 million worth of improvements and a second bond is expected to be taken out next year.

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Lehigh Valley Health Network Surpasses 10,000 Employees

Unlike many skilled craftsmen, Mike Scott, a carpenter from Slatington, has collected a steady paycheck for the past 25 years, regardless of the weather and economy.

Scott builds cabinets, countertops and other fixtures for Lehigh Valley Health Network, the Valley’s biggest employer. People are often surprised to learn where he works after hearing his profession.

“Ninety percent of people have no idea that a hospital has a full staff of all the different trades,” said Scott, standing in a large wood shop at the western edge of Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Salisbury Township.

For years, the nonprofit health network has been the Valley’s top employer. And now it has earned a distinction not seen since the heyday of Bethlehem Steel. The network became the first Valley employer in at least 30 years to surpass the 10,000-employee mark, with 10,207 workers in 2011.

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