LVEDC, Chamber to Host ‘Manufacturing Momentum in Bethlehem’ Event
By Colin McEvoy on April 4, 2017
Manufacturing has not disappeared in America, it has changed. And it certainly has not disappeared in the Lehigh Valley, where manufacturing is once again the top sector in terms of economic output.
The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) will be partnering with the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce to host “Manufacturing Momentum in Bethlehem,” an event that highlights the new manufacturing that has come to define the city.
“You hear a lot of talk about America’s manufacturing past, but today, the Lehigh Valley is leading the way in building America’s manufacturing future,” LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham said. “That’s why the theme of our new marketing campaign is, ‘Hey, world, we still make stuff here!’”
The event will be held Wednesday, April 12, in the Foundry Room of the Sands Casino Bethlehem Hotel. It will be run from 4 pm to 5:30 pm with cocktails, appetizers, and the program. Tickets are $40, and attendees can register on the Chamber’s website.
Cunningham will moderate a panel discussion featuring manufacturing leaders from the Lehigh Valley, who will discuss the manufacturing climate in the city of Bethlehem and beyond. The panel includes:
- Doug Michels, President and CEO of OraSure Technologies
- Paul Hodges, co-founder and CEO of Soltech Solutions
- Rex Boland, VP and GM, Allentown Operations, for B Braun Medical
- Todd Schurra, General Manager of Curtiss-Wright
Once reliant on a single manufacturer, Bethlehem has transcended the fall of steel and has rebounded with a strong diversified collection of many manufacturing facilities.
Manufacturing generates $5.56 billion – or 15 percent – of the Lehigh Valley’s $37 billion overall gross domestic product (GDP), and there are about 680 manufacturers in the Lehigh Valley employing about 32,000 workers.
Additionally, the Lehigh Valley was in the Top 13% nationally for year-to-year manufacturing growth, and more than one-third of the Lehigh Valley’s economic growth from 2014 to 2015 was attributed to manufacturing.
“Manufacturing looks different today than it did before, primarily because of automation and technology,” Cunningham said. “Manufacturers in the Lehigh Valley today are making everything from aeronautic components to building materials, from Mack Trucks to medical supplies and devices, from beer to baked goods.”
The panel discussion at “Manufacturing Momentum in Bethlehem” features a mix of the standard bearers in Lehigh Valley manufacturing, like B Braun Medical, and the “new” manufacturers like Soltech Solutions, a manufacturer of LED grow lights that recently moved to the region.
OraSure Technologies was among the manufacturers featured in a video LVEDC produced highlighting the region’s manufacturing sector. Others featured included Mack Trucks, Victaulic, Crayola, and the Orbel Corporation.
That video, which was created by the Emmy Award-winning FireRock Productions, was selected for the prestigious Excellence in Economic Development Award by the International Economic Development Council. It can be seen below:
High performance manufacturing was identified by Garner Economics as one of the four optimal target sectors of the Lehigh Valley based on the site-specific characteristics of the regional economy. The others included high value business services, life science research and manufacturing, and food and beverage processing.
The region’s central location, proximity to markets, well-developed transportation infrastructure, strong workforce, and availability of water and sewer lines to industrial sites were among some of the factors that led Garner Economics to identify manufacturing as a target sector for the region.
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