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Lehigh Valley Ranks in Top Five Regions in Northeast for Economic Development; Top Among Regions Its Size

By Colin McEvoy on March 24, 2017

The Lehigh Valley has been ranked one of the top five overall regions in the Northeastern United States in terms of economic development for 2016, and the number one region of its population size in the Northeast, according to Site Selection magazine.

The Lehigh Valley was the only Northeast region with a population range between 200,000 and 1 million to make the top five list. (image courtesy Site Selection)

The Lehigh Valley was the only Northeast region with a population range between 200,000 and 1 million to make the top five list. (image courtesy Site Selection)

The Lehigh Valley ranked behind only the New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and the Boston metropolitan statistical areas in the list, and was the only region in the population range between 200,000 and 1 million to make the top five.

“You need only to look at the four heavy-hitters the Lehigh Valley shares that list with to see that we are swinging well above our weight class,” said Don Cunningham, President and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC). “This past year has been a significant one for economic growth in the Lehigh Valley, and we continue to be the fastest-growing region in the state of Pennsylvania.”

The Lehigh Valley is the only metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the 200,000 to 1 million population range to rank among the top seven regions of the Northeast, according to Site Selection. The next-highest in that population range is the Bridgeport area in Connecticut, which ranked eighth in the list.

The Lehigh Valley’s lead among same-sized Northeast regions is substantial. Site Selection tracked 26 economic development projects in the Lehigh Valley for the year 2016, which is nearly double the 14 tracked for Bridgeport.

Site Selection is one of the highest-read and most well-respected publications in the country, with a readership of power brokers who make major economic development decisions,” Cunningham said. “For them to recognize the growth in our is a truly remarkable accomplishment.”

Site Selection does not disclose which 26 projects it considered eligible for these rankings. LVEDC has tracked 31 business attraction, expansion and retention projects for the year 2016,  resulting in the creation of 4,832 new jobs and the retention of 2,205 more.

Among some of those projects are Guardian Life Insurance, which consolidated its corporate headquarters into a new office complex, in Hanover Township, Northampton County, retaining 1,600 jobs; and Amazon, which doubled its space in the Lehigh Valley to more than two million square feet, adding 700 jobs.

Others included Norac, a French bakery products company establishing its first American manufacturing facility in Forks Township, creating 62 jobs; Mack Trucks, which is investing $70 million in improvements to its Lower Macungie Township plant; and Stitch Fix, which established its first Northeast distribution center in Lower Nazareth Township, creating 500 jobs.

A full list of the 31 projects tracked by LVEDC which will be available in the organization’s annual report, which will be distributed for the first time at the 2017 LVEDC Annual Meeting on March 23.

Published by Conway Data, Site Selection is the oldest publication in the corporate real estate and economic development field. It is the official publication of the Industrial Asset Management Council, and has circulation base of about 44,000 executives involved in corporate site selection decisions.

Don Cunningham: Lehigh Valley Economy Stronger, More Diverse Than Ever

This column, written by LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham, originally appeared in The Morning Call's Outlook Section, and on the newspaper's website on March 20, 2017[...]

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Lehigh ValleyQuick Facts

  • Industry Spotlight

    13.8% of Labor Force
    Employed in Professional & Business Services
    Q4 2016

  • By the Numbers
    $39.1 Billion

    Gross Domestic Product
    2016

  • Investor Spotlight
    City Center Lehigh Valley
  • Industry Spotlight

    9.8% of Labor Force
    Employed in Manufacturing
    Q4 2016

  • By the Numbers
    $3.44 Billion

    Exports
    2015

  • Investor Spotlight
    Air Products
  • Industry Spotlight

    1,504 Total Office Buildings
    Q2 2017

  • By the Numbers
    $57,510

    Median Household Income

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    PPL Electric Utilities
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    1,770 Total Industrial Buildings
    Q2 2017

  • By the Numbers
    24,400

    New Jobs Created Over Past 5 Years

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    National Penn
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    5.0% Industrial
    Vacancy Rate
    Q2 2017

  • By the Numbers
    658,477

    Population

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    Olympus
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    7.7% Office
    Vacancy Rate
    Q2 2017

  • By the Numbers
    342,493

    Labor Force

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    Lutron Electronics
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    17.2% of Labor Force
    Employed in Health Care & Social Assistance

  • By the Numbers
    5,073

    Technology Patents from 2000-2015

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    Mack Trucks
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    9.1% Increase in exports
    Among top 20 markets nationally in export growth

  • By the Numbers
    25.8 Million

    Total Office Inventory (Square Feet)
    Q2 2017

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    UGI
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    10.1% Industrial rent growth
    Second highest in the U.S.

  • By the Numbers
    115.5 Million

    Total Industrial Inventory (Square Feet)
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    NFI