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SITE SELECTION

The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance can assist you with all of your needs for expanding or relocating your business to the Greater Reading, PA area. As your primary point of contact, we will coordinate all resources to ensure your transition is smooth and your business is successful. From exclusive workforce development programs to lists of available properties to regional demographics data, GRCA can connect your business to a wealth of information and profitable opportunities.

Resources & Services

  • Facilitated process and information gathering
  • Planned tours of our community and properties
  • Access to workforce development resources and programs
  • Access to funding and incentive packages
  • Mapping and customized workforce analysis
  • Wage and salary information
  • Regional data and demographics
  • A comprehensive database of available office, commercial and industrial properties
  • Introductions to service providers, business leaders and human resource professional

Setting Your Business Up for Success

Home to more than 400,000 people and with 630,000 people in a 20-mile radius, the Greater Reading, PA community offers a lower cost of living while providing big-city amenities. Few locations on the East Coast offer a more central location with easy access to markets like Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and New York.

But our strategic, centralized location is just the beginning. With Greater Reading’s rich history, captivating natural beauty, cultural vitality, and a variety of recreational areas, it’s easy to see why people have always been attracted to our unique community.

The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance drives economic development in our community and has played a role in bringing many new businesses to the area, by connecting them with the resources that allow them to become bigger, better and more efficient. Our business community is exceptionally proactive and interconnected, which makes it easier for your business to find and take advantage of new and profitable opportunities.

Here’s some of what Greater Reading, PA has to offer:

Gateway Drive

  • 20,000 to 22,000 square feet.
  • Concept maximizes the allowable
    building footprint and parking.

Bern Township

  • Building coverage provided 245,500 square feet.*
Parking Data
  • Industrial, wholesaling, or warehousing requirement.
  • Minimum of two spaces per 1000 square feet of gross floor area.
*Note: Available Lot Lower Right Corner.

Sites & Buildings

Greater Reading Chamber Alliance has built a reputation of providing the information business owners, site selectors and entrepreneurs need to make better decisions. Our community offers an extremely profitable and supportive market for commercial and industrial businesses. We encourage innovation, creativity and a cohesive team mentality.

Incentives

When seeking a location to expand or move your business, there are a few very important characteristics to keep in mind. Chief among these is the site itself. It must be cost-effective, central to your business operations, and ideal for motivating a diverse and skilled workforce. Fortunately, the Greater Reading community offers all this and more.

Below you’ll find a sampling of available incentives and zones for your business. Greater Reading offers distinct competitive advantages that truly set it apart–and we can work with you to connect you to the resources you need to be successful.

Partnering with GRCA opens the door to customized financing and incentive options. To get started today, contact us!

County-Wide LERTA – Local Economic Revitalization Tax Abatement: LERTA was established to allow local taxing authorities to exempt new construction and improvements to a commercial, industrial and/or business property if such property is in a deteriorated or underutilized area.

Property improvements eligible for exemption include:

  • Repairs.
  • Construction or reconstruction, including alterations and additions.
  • Rehabilitating a deteriorated property to make it habitable or to attain a higher standard of safety.
  • Improvements required to alleviate health concerns.
  • Economic use or amenity.
  • Improvements necessary to comply with laws, ordinances, or regulations governing such standards.

For LERTA to apply to a property, each local taxing authority (County, Municipal, and School District) must, by ordinance or resolution, exempt from real property taxes the assessed value of improvements to deteriorated properties and the assessed value of new construction within the designated deteriorated areas.

Job Creation Tax Credit program available to eligible businesses that, within three years from a negotiated start date, create 25 or more jobs. Each new employee must earn an hourly wage of at least 150% of the federal minimum wage ($10.88/hr.), excluding benefits, at the time the certificate is issued.

On-the-Job Training (OJT): Businesses may qualify for a training reimbursement amount equal to 50% of the wage of a new hire. The average reimbursement per employee is in the range of $3,000 to $4,000.

PA Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy: C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) is a financing solution for long term investments into a commercial property. With C-PACE, building owners can enjoy the advantages of energy upgrades immediately and pay for them over time through a voluntary assessment lien that is repaid annually along with municipal property taxes.

C-PACE allows building owners to:

  • Take control of energy costs to save money and increase their bottom line: Positive cash flow resulting from lower, more predictable energy costs allow you to focus on your core business
  • Make their building more comfortable: Invest in upgrades that improve your building, making your facility more enjoyable and attractive for you, your employees, tenants or customers
  • Act with confidence: Finance 100% of green energy upgrades that are determined by you and your consultant

For more information about C-PACE in Berks County, please contact Sustainable Energy Fund at 610-264-4440 or email cpace@thesef.org.

Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit: Tax credits for increased research activities performed in Pennsylvania. Credits can reduce income tax of the entity generating the credit OR can be sold to other businesses if credits exceed the actual tax.

The Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania (WEDnetPA) provides training funds to qualified employers to train new and existing employees. The funding can be used for a wide range of incumbent worker training – categorized as either:

  • Essential Skills Training: up to $450 per trainee, per year.
  • Advanced Technology Training: up to $850 per trainee, per year.
  • Eligibility: Employees to be trained must be residents of and employed in
    Pennsylvania. Employees to be trained must earn at least 150% of current federal minimum wage, excluding benefits. Employees to be trained must be permanent, full-time employees and eligible for full-time benefits

Zones

Federal Opportunity Zones

Opportunity Funds are investment vehicles organized as a corporation or partnership for the purpose of investing in Opportunity Zones. Opportunity Funds can self-certify and must invest at least 90% of their capital in qualifying Opportunity Zone investments. Eligible investments in Opportunity Zones may include commercial real estate development and renovation, opening new businesses and expansion of existing businesses. Investing realized capital gains into Opportunity Zones has many benefits for individual or corporate taxpayers, including:

  • Deferral of federal tax payment on initial capital gain until the earlier of the sale of the Opportunity Fund investment or December 31, 2026.
  • Partial exclusion from federal tax of the original capital gain through a step up in basis if the Opportunity Fund investment is held for five years (10%) or seven years (15%).
  • Full exclusion from federal tax of any new capital gain if the Opportunity Fund investment is held for 10 years or more.

The Federal Opportunity Zone in Berks County covers a majority of downtown Reading and West Reading – view a map here.

Keystone Enterprise Zone

The Greater Reading Keystone Enterprise Zone was approved by Governor Tom Wolf in May 2021. The application for the designation was prepared and submitted by the Greater Berks Development Fund (GBDF), an affiliate of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, with the assistance of the Albright College Center for Local Government and the Berks County Industrial Development Authority.

A Keystone Enterprise Zone designation addresses deteriorated, distressed and blighted industrial and manufacturing areas. The designation and subsequent Five-Year Strategy should improve standards of living through revitalization, attraction of new business and creating job opportunities.

Participating municipalities in the Greater Reading Keystone Enterprise Zone are Bern Township, Cumru Township, Muhlenberg Township, Ontelaunee Township and the City of Reading. Certain industrial and commercially zoned properties with each municipality are designated as “Enterprise Zone,” which will last until May 31, 2026.

This designation provides the added benefit of priority consideration under several Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) programs including the Keystone Communities program. The designation also qualifies as a “distressed area” under the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP).

 Additional benefits to designation as a Keystone Enterprise Zone include:

  • Eligible businesses located within the zone receive priority consideration when bidding on state government contracts. This benefit continues for five years after the zone exits the program.
  • Eligible businesses located within the zone receive priority consideration when applying for financial assistance to clean up contaminated sites under Act II. This benefit is active up to five years after the zone has exited the program.
  • Eligible businesses receive priority consideration for any resource administered by the commonwealth that would assist in leveraging imminent business investment and job creation in an Enterprise Zone.
  • Priority consideration for a state liquor license.

The Greater Reading Keystone Enterprise Zone is an important tool for approved municipalities to utilize in the redevelopment and revitalization of their communities. For more information contact Debra Millman, President of Greater Berks Development Fund at dmillman@greaterreading.org.

Keystone Innovation Zones

The Greater Reading Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) is an economic development program funded by the PA Department of Community & Economic Development and other stakeholders in the program. The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) is the designated fiscal agent for the operation of the KIZ.

Statement of Purpose: The purpose of the Greater Reading KIZ is to drive high value economic development opportunities based on:

  • The creation of new, innovative enterprise.
  • The enhancement of existing businesses.
  • The development of a tech-ready workforce.
  • The creation of strong partnerships between the region’s higher education institutions and the business community.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Business must be in operation for less than 8 years.
  • Business must be in a designated target industry for the KIZ program.
  • Business must be located within a Keystone Innovation Zone designated region.

Keystone Opportunity Zones

The Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) Program is an innovative economic and community development programs. This unique program develops a community’s abandoned, unused, underutilized land and buildings into productive properties through the abatement of certain state and local taxes. The majority of the Keystone Opportunity Zone-designated sites are within the City of Reading.

Taxes Eligible To Be Waived:

Through credits, waivers, and broad-based tax abatements, total taxes on economic activity in zones are significantly reduced. These benefits affect the following taxes:

  • State:
    • Corporate Net Income tax.
    • Personal Income tax.
    • Sales and Use tax (purchases consumed and used by the qualified business in the zone).
  • Local:
    • Earned Income/Net Profits tax.
    • Business Gross Receipts, Business Occupancy, Business Privilege, and Mercantile tax.
    • Sales and Use tax (county/city; purchases exclusively used and consumed by the qualified business in the zone).
    • Property tax.

Foreign Trade Zone 147

Berks County is one of 11 Central-Pennsylvania Counties located in Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) 147.

Companies can use foreign-trade zones to maintain the cost competitiveness of their U.S.-based operations in relation to their foreign-based competitors.

The fundamental benefit offered by the FTZ program to U.S.-based companies is the ability to defer, reduce or even eliminate Customs duties on products admitted to the zone. For the U.S.-based companies involved in international trade, the FTZ program provides a means of improving their competitive position in relation to their counterparts abroad. Learn more about FTZ 147 at FTZ147.com.

HUBZone

The Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program was enacted into law as part of the Small Business Reauthorization Act of 1997. The program falls under the auspices of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The program encourages economic development in historically underutilized business zones – “HUBZones” – through the establishment of preferences.

How the HUBZone Program Works:

The SBA regulates and implements the HUBZone program. SBA does the following:

  • Determines which businesses are eligible to receive HUBZone contracts.
  • Maintains a listing of qualified HUBZone small businesses that federal agencies can use to locate vendors.
  • Adjudicates protests of eligibility to receive HUBZone contracts.
  • Reports to the Congress on the program’s impact on employment and investment in HUBZone areas.

Benefits of the HUBZone Program:

The program’s benefits for HUBZone-certified companies include:

  • Competitive and sole source contracting.
  • 10% price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions, as well as subcontracting opportunities.

The federal government has a goal of awarding 3% of all dollars for federal prime contracts to HUBZone-certified small business concerns.

Eligibility for HUBZone:

To qualify for the program, a business must meet the following criteria:

  • It must be a small business by SBA standards.
  • It must be owned and controlled at least 51% by U.S. citizens, or a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, or an Indian tribe.
  • Its principal office must be located within a “Historically Underutilized Business Zone”
    Search the SBA Hubzone map here.
  • At least 35% of its employees must reside in a HUBZone.

For more information on any of these zones, contact Deb Millman610.898.7798.

Take advantage of extremely low interest rates!

Third quarter interest rate options for qualifying PIDA loan applications are listed below.  These rates are in effect for loan applications received through September 30, 2021.

For real estate loans financing eligible land and building costs, borrowers will have the following interest rate options:

Term Loans with a Regular Amortization

  1. Fixed interest rate for the full term of the loan (up to a 15-year period), set at the current 10-year treasury yield + 100 basis points. Based on the current 10-year treasury yield, the fixed rate option is 2.5% for the life of the loan.
  2. Fixed interest rate for a seven-year period set at the 10-year treasury yield.  After seven years, the rate will reset to the then-current 10-year treasury yield. Please note, the reset rate is limited to a 200 basis point increase/decrease. The reset rate is then fixed for the duration of the loan. Based on the current 10-year treasury yield, the rate for the initial seven-year period is 1.5%.

10-Year Term Loans with a 20-Year Amortization Period

  1. Fixed interest rate for the full term of the loan (10-year period). This option is calculated using the 10-year treasury yield +100 basis points. Based on the current 10-year treasury yield, the fixed rate option is 2.5% for the life of the loan.
  2. Fixed interest rate for a five-year period set at the 10-year treasury yield. After five years, the rate will reset to the then-current 10-year treasury yield. Please note, the reset rate is limited to a 200 basis point increase/decrease. The reset rate is then fixed for the duration of the loan. Based on the current 10-year treasury yield, the rate for the initial five-year period is 1.5%.

Equipment Loans:
2.5% fixed rate for the full term of the loan.

Working Capital and Accounts Receivable Lines of Credit:
2.5% fixed rate for 12 month period.

Pollution Prevention and Energy Efficiency Loans:
2.00% fixed rate for the full term of the loan.

Financing

Business financing isn’t one size fits all.

Does your business need:

  • Long-term fixed interest rates?
  • A way to spend less money out of pocket (such as reduced equity injection)?
  • Loans for land acquisition, construction, machinery, or equipment?
  • Information about tax credits or incentives for job creation and investment?
  • A second opinion because you’ve been turned down by a bank?

With a simple conversation, we can connect you with financial resources that can help your business grow. The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) operates under a single principle—helping businesses grow and succeed in our community. Using our existing connections and available resources, we can direct you to exclusive financing opportunities to fund your business’s next project. Our team has over 50 years of combined government lending experience and a dedication to excellent customer service. From loans to grants to tax credits and training dollars, GRCA is fully equipped to get you connected to the right resources to turn your vision into action. Whether you’re a large company with a long history, or a new start-up, GRCA can connect you with financial resources no matter your industry or need.

Agricultural Financing

Financing Project Assisted by GRCA

Fisher Family Farm

The Frank T. Fisher Farm, LP, received a $375,000 PIDA loan in 2018 that financed the acquisition of an additional 49 acres near their home farm in Oley Township that expanded their cropping operations. The family operates a well-known produce stand on Rt. 682 that specializes in their homegrown vegetables, including their renowned sweet corn.

Reu-Hel Farms, Inc. 
This family dairy operation in Centre Township dating back to the 1940s currently operated by the Troutmans were looking for new ways to provide additional farm income. In February 2020, Reu-Hel Farms, Inc., was approved by PIDA to receive a $400,000 loan that will assist in the construction of three duck ‘developer’ houses which will provide grow out for a large East Coast duck processor.

Zahncroft Dairy, LLC

Zahncroft Dairy, a long-standing dairy cow operation in Marion Township owned and operated by the Sattazahn family, received assistance from a $400,000 PIDA loan for the expansion of the existing facility. The owners needed to upgrade their facilities and the PIDA loan helped finance a new dairy barn that included a new free stall barn and milking parlor.

To learn more about our agricultural financing, contact Landon Bernheiser, Director of Real Estate & Special Projects, at 610.898.7792.

Innovative Strategies

Joint Economic Approval Program (JEAP) – County of Berks

JEAP is a comprehensive and unified approach to streamlining permitting processes and allocating resources in the County of Berks. This process provides incentive to new and existing commercial and industrial businesses to make capital investments in Berks County.

Evaluation criteria:

  1.  Project value to the community.
    a. Must be able to retain or grow existing business and jobs.
    b. Must be able to attract new business and jobs.
    c. Must develop a site or building important to the municipality.
  2. How far in the development process the project is and will JEAP be a productive factor.
  3. The project is consistent with the County’s adopted Comprehensive Plan.
  4. The majority of the members of the governing body of the municipality in which the project is located must be in favor of the project being included in the program.
    Note: This is a Threshold Criteria.

For further information and to submit an application to the County of Berks, contact Aaron Gantz at agantz@greaterreading.org

City of Reading One Stop Meeting

One Stop Meetings provide an informal review of projects only; approval is still required. One Stop Meetings are held on Thursday mornings by appointment.

Click the button below for more information and to complete a One Stop Meeting application.

Tax Rates

Berks County Tax Rates 2021

School tax rate effective: 07/01/2020. All other tax rates effective 01/01/2021.

Rates are based on information supplied to the Treasurer/Assessment Office.
To verify rates, contact the district or school.

***Contact Upper Perkiomen School for tax calculation.

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