Jun 16, 2016

The Lehigh Valley, From Factory To Warehouse

I was born in late 1946. Growing up in the 1950's, the Lehigh Valley was teeming with factories. Near my home in South Allentown was Mack Trucks and General Electric. Lehigh Structural Steel was along the river, and just beyond was Western Electric. Dozens of sewing factories employed thousands of women. Up to 30,000 people once worked at Bethlehem Steel, which stretched from the Hill To Hill Bridge down to Hellertown.

The next generation of business, like Kraft Food, was less industrial, and located here because of location and the ethic of the residual work force. Yesterday, we learned of a proposal to tear down Kraft, and replace it with warehouses. If not for our central location in the dense northeast, I fear we would be in dire straights. We are now becoming a major distribution center. Too bad that almost of the products being distributed are made in China.


Monkey Momma said...

I read on Facebook today an interesting comment about the effect Kraft's departure will have on the LCA. I hope the poster doesn't mind, but here are some snippets of his post, "we just lost a major supplier of sewage for the pretreatment plant. This will kill LCA's revenue stream. ...Kraft was one of the reasons that our county tax funds were channeled into redeveloping the pre-treatment plant back in the 90's. ... OK Central Division LCA ratepayers- get ready for some hefty sewage rate hikes and you idiots in Upper Macungie who will not stop the warehouse growth by using exclusionary zoning are going to pay for it big time. I can hear the whining going on next year with LCA rate hikes and you have no one to blame but yourselves."

Geoff said...

Add to that the charming but essentially sad practice of renovating old factory buildings into art galleries, shops, etc.

Great to keep the look and memories of the old buildings and to preserve the craftsmanship of the builders--but at the end of the day these projects transform wealth-producing assets into wealth-consuming assets.

Speaking of that, I don't think the Morning Call has given us a Ruckus Brewing update for Neuweilers in a while.

LVCI said...

Monkey Mamma a little more background. The first pretreatment plant was a bust and the county went to court suing it's designer. In 1990 a new pretreatment was constructed at an estimated cost of $31+ million. Since Stroh used about 70%-80% of it's flow at the time the brewery paid $16.1 million towards it.

In 1990 Kraft used about 15% of it's flow rate. Kraft paid nothing towards it's construction but in return built it's own partial pretreatment on site. The Kraft pretreatment assured no water over 150 degrees or any containing oils or solids would leave the plant. A Kraft spokesman at the time (1990) said they were paying more towards it's volume of wastewater then at any of their other plants in the United States.

I'm sure with what's left out there at the present time produces far less wastewater then it did in it's heyday. But it's still involves 10,000's gallons of fresh water a day that Kraft won't be buying once it leaves. Wastewater represents only a fraction of that which is used to make it's remaining products (A1, Grey Poupon, etc.) Therefore I tend to think fresh water usage charges will have a much larger impact.

michael molovinsky said...

momma@9:30, the discharge, although treated somewhat in house, from ocean spray is so harsh, that they failed to meet N.J. standards, which are fairly low.

geoff@10:14, ruckus was a client of mike fleck. beyond that, there was nothing in their background to suggest that they could handle the neuweiler project. the building may be beyond restoration.

i have posted extensively in the past on both these topics.

Geoff said...

MM--no question that you have posted. I find the lack of follow-up by the MC, given their initial rampant cheerleading of a truly speculative and pie-in-the-sky project, to be a disappointment.

george schaller said...

Not only China but also mexico?????