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Gov. Rendell: Bethlehem Making Great Strides in Ongoing Revitalization With St. Luke's Riverside, ArtsQuest Projects

Thursday, October 29, 2009 General News J E 4
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Announces $17.6 million for St. Luke's Expansion Project; Helps Break Ground at Center for Performing Arts

BETHLEHEM, Pa., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G. Rendell today said Lehigh Valley residents will have greater access to world-class health care and entertainment with two new, major economic development projects that will create approximately 1,700 new jobs and enhance the area's continuing revitalization.

During the first of his two stops in Bethlehem, the Governor announced that St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network will build a heath center and inpatient hospital that will be named St. Luke's Riverside. Within four years, St. Luke's will create 1,385 jobs without impacting the 5,893 existing positions and invest $212 million into the project.

"This is tremendous news for the region that marks another major milestone in Bethlehem's ongoing revitalization," Governor Rendell said. "Not only will St. Luke's Riverside provide a wide range of high-quality health care services, but it will also create nearly 1,400 new jobs for the hardworking residents of the Lehigh Valley."

The new health complex and inpatient hospital will be constructed on the hospital's Riverside campus, which consists of 500 acres in Bethlehem Township near the intersection of Route 33 and Interstate 78.

The project is the first phase of a long-term development plan for the St. Luke's Riverside Campus. Other projects will feature the region's only free-standing cancer center and is expected to be the largest contiguous health care campus in Pennsylvania. The first phase is expected to be finished in late 2011.

"Today, we celebrate the outstanding community benefit that occurs when government and an organization such as St. Luke's work together," said Richard A. Anderson, president and CEO, St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network. "At St. Luke's, we dream big and we invent our future with the help of outstanding partners such as the Governor and his staff, our state representatives and senators, and our friends and partners who govern Bethlehem Township. Nothing is impossible to accomplish when well-intentioned people work together."

The project was coordinated through the Governor's Action Team, economic development professionals who assist businesses that are considering locating or expanding in the state.

Pennsylvania will invest $17.6 million in the project, including a $5 million grant from the Infrastructure and Facilities Improvement Program, $4.25 million in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants, a $3.8 million Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank loan, a $2.06 million grant from PennWorks, $969,500 in job training assistance, $255,000 in job creation tax credits and $1.3 million in highway improvements along Freemason Avenue.

After announcing the St. Luke's Riverside project, Governor Rendell helped to break ground for the $25 million ArtsQuest Center for Performing Arts at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. The performing arts center, which will be the anchor of the transformed 4.5-acre facility, is one of four major projects that will eventually entertain and delight those who visit the Lehigh Valley.

The commonwealth has invested $12.25 million for the SteelStacks campus project, of which $7.625 million will help build the ArtsQuest Center. The balance of the money will help the other three phases of the project.

"The ArtsQuest Center will be a great addition to the Lehigh Valley," said Governor Rendell. "Not only will the center have a positive $40 million impact on the region's economy, it will also greatly improve the quality of life by bringing entertainment to the community and exposing local residents to the arts. Facilities like this add to the quality of life in the region and can help to attract other job-creating businesses to the community."

The project will require the work of 100 construction workers. After its completion, some 200 full-time employees are expected to work in the new facility, which will provide a showcase for musicians and the community.

The performing arts center will include a two-screen, state-of-the art theatre called the ArtsQuest Cinema at SteelStacks; a 450-seat, cabaret-style Musikfest Cafe, which will feature a wide variety of live music; and the 4,000-square-foot Blast Furnace Room, which will host a variety of community and educational functions.

The SteelStacks campus is being developed by ArtsQuest, a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating the arts and culture in and around the Lehigh Valley area.

For more information about St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network, visit www.slhn.org. For more information about SteelStacks and the ArtsQuest Center for Performing Arts, visit www.steelstacks.org/. For information on the Governor's Action Team, visit www.NewPA.com or call 1-866-466-3972.

Media contacts: Mark Shade, DCED; 717-783-1132; Michael Smith, Governor's Office; 717-783-1116

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor

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