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Lehigh and the Community  >  Commercial Vitality  

Commercial Vitality

Through economic development efforts, the city is working to revitalize local industry as well as attract and retain top talent. That's why Lehigh supports the business owners and entrepreneurial endeavors that bring commercial vitality to the region.

Supporting Entrepreneurship

Several Lehigh alumni have started a business in Bethlehem. Former students Tim Marks and Patrick Clasen have built a highly successful aquarium equipment company in the South Side based on a project they developed as students in 2003. Now, EcoTech Marine distributes its line of products around the world, all from its headquarters located just blocks from Lehigh’s campus, and it’s on track to record more than $12 million in revenue in 2012.

Marks and Clasen attribute much of their success to the City of Bethlehem. The Office of Community and Economic Development helped the entrepreneurs secure a loan through the city, as well as a line of credit. Local funding from the Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) and Ben Franklin Technology Partners helped this startup make the Lehigh Valley home.

Several more businesses with roots at Lehigh are housed in Pi: Partnership for Innovation, South Bethlehem’s new technology center. Chiharu Tokura started the research for DynAccess, which makes equipment for skiers with disabilities, at Ben Franklin Technology Partners. And Rob Sandie ’06 started Viddler, a social networking website that allows users to upload, edit and share digital videos. Together with the other four companies at Pi, DynAccess and Viddler employ 40 people.

The Dexter F. Baker Center for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation

GoldPLUS Program

Lehigh knows that local businesses generate income and jobs for the community. That's why Lehigh students, faculty and staff patronize the shops that bring distinct goods and services to Bethlehem. Through the GoldPLUS program, students can use their Lehigh identification card as a debit card to make purchases at almost 100 off-campus merchants—everything from ice cream to coffee to running shoes.

Today more than 5,000 students, faculty and staff members are active GoldPLUS account holders. In 2011-12, off-campus merchants in the surrounding community, such as local retailers Home & Planet and Aardvark Sports Shop, popular eateries like Blue Sky Café and Deja Brew, and service providers such as Healing Hands and American Hairlines, received $900,000 in GoldPLUS revenue.


Neighborhood Events

Bethlehem's South Side offers a series of exciting events throughout the year that draw community members and visitors alike to its commercial district. First Fridays, Spring on Fourth/What's on Third, the South Side Film Festival, and the Bethlehem Farmers' Market showcase the neighborhood's eclectic retailers and restaurants, as well as its vibrant arts and cultural scene.

The Campus Square area also serves as a gathering place for city residents and students alike. When the Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem was in need of a new location for its South Bethlehem Farmers' Market, Lehigh offered its Campus Square courtyard as a more accessible location for residents and local patrons. Today the market offers a place for neighbors to interact and purchase locally grown produce and goods.

Campus Square
Morton & New Streets


Lehigh University • 27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015 USA • (610) 758-3000