ALLENTOWN, PA.— The Da Vinci Science Center is honored to announce it is the recipient of an $8 million grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) to support the construction of its new state-of-the-art facility in downtown Allentown. RACP is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the Governor’s Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects that have a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact, and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.
“We appreciate the commitment of Governor Wolf, Senator Browne, and the entire Lehigh Valley legislative delegation for investing an unprecedented level of state funding in our new science center in downtown Allentown. The state funding will help ensure that we stay on track for groundbreaking this spring and opening in 2024,” said Lin Erickson, Executive Director and CEO. “Da Vinci Science Center at PPL Pavilion will be a regional center of excellence for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math) education and a catalyst for additional investment in downtown Allentown. In fact, studies forecast that we will attract over 400,000 visitors, generate $33.4 million in economic output annually and support 487 full time equivalent jobs.”
“Public funding is critical to this project, and we are fortunate to have local, state and federal financial support,” said Erickson. “This project would not be possible without the advocacy and support of the entire Lehigh Valley legislative delegation, including Senators Pat Browne (Dist. 16), Lisa Boscola (Dist. 18) and Mario Scavello (Dist. 40) and Representatives Peter Schweyer (Dist. 22), Mike Schlossberg (Dist. 132), Gary Day (Dist. 187), Ryan Mackenzie (Dist. 134), Milou Mackenzie, (Dist. 131) Jeannie McNeill (Dist. 133), Zach Mako (Dist. 183), Ann Flood (Dist. 138), Robert Freeman (Dist. 136), Steve Samuelson (Dist. 138) and Joe Emrick (Dist. 137).”
“We are very grateful that PA legislators recognize the importance of expanding access to science learning for youth and families,” said Erickson. Science literacy empowers individuals, spurs economic development and contributes to a healthy, vibrant community.
State funding provided the foundation for developing the project and will ensure that we can bring it to fruition.”
PPL Corporation is the title sponsor of the new 67,000-square-foot facility with the name Da Vinci Science Center at PPL Pavilion prominently featured on the exterior at the Hamilton Blvd. and Eighth St. entrances.
“Our success as a company is tied to the success of all the towns and cities we serve – communities like Allentown, which has been our headquarters since 1920,” said Vincent Sorgi, President and CEO of PPL Corp. “The state’s investment in this project underscores the importance of supporting equitable, engaging, high-quality educational opportunities for all students to help prepare the next generation of STEM workers and PPL is proud to share in that investment.”
The new facility will be a workforce development partner focused on building a STEAM career ladder for residents in the immediate neighborhood and throughout the region. The new Science Center will be conveniently located within one mile’s walking distance for 52,000 residents, 43% of whom are Allentown School District students.
James McLean, Chairman of the Board at Da Vinci Science Center and Senior Vice President, Investments at Steel Valley Investment Group, summarized the impact of this funding, “The RACP funding reinforces the Science Center’s ability to create a world class visitor attraction and educational resource that will allow us to expand our mission. Today we reach about 150,000 people annually. The new facility will expand access to science learning and bring science to life for over 400,000 students, families, and everyone who has an interest in immersing themselves in high-tech, hands-on experiences that only Da Vinci Science Center at PPL Pavilion will offer.”
Designed by MKSD Architects, the new Science Center will be three stories with over 30,000 SF of exhibit space, triple the space of its current Cedar Crest facility. The reimagined space will engage visitors through distinct yet interrelated experiences that take inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci’s way of seeing the connections between and the possibilities within everything around him. Visitors of all ages will be immersed in experiences ranging from exploring the inner workings of the human body to the interconnectivity of humans with the natural world and the innovation that exists at the intersection of both. The groundbreaking on the new facility is slated for spring of 2022 followed by a 2024 opening.