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LVEDC Finalizing New Strategic Plan for 2017-2020

By Colin McEvoy on September 8, 2017

Don Cunningham, President & CEO of LVEDC, speaking at the organization's 2017 annual meeting. (photo by Marco Calderon)

Don Cunningham, President & CEO of LVEDC, speaking at the organization’s 2017 annual meeting. (photo by Marco Calderon)

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) is in the process of finalizing a new strategic plan that will update the economic development organization’s priorities and goals for the Lehigh Valley during the next three years.

LVEDC started the process early this year working with outside consultants, key stakeholder organizations in the Lehigh Valley and the LVEDC Board of Directors. The plan is set to be adopted this month by the LVEDC Board.

“Changes happen so rapidly in today’s economy that it’s critical for us to revisit our goals, strategic targets, and work plans every three years,” said Don Cunningham, LVEDC President and CEO. “We are fortunate to have a fast-growing economic base in the Lehigh Valley but we want to ensure that our external marketing and in-market strategies are focused on the highest-quality growth and job creation that is possible for the Lehigh Valley.”

To best understand how the Lehigh Valley fits into the competitive marketplace, Cunningham and the LVEDC Board commissioned several consultant studies, surveys and reviews of the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of the region.

“We have made tremendous progress in getting the outside world to be aware of the economic assets and strengths of the Lehigh Valley but more work still needs to be done,” Cunningham said. “The input we received by asking others how they see us – and not assuming – has been invaluable.”

Plan finalizing

Informed by those findings, and focus group sessions with critical government and private sector partners in the Lehigh Valley, the LVEDC Board of Directors is finalizing a 2017-2020 strategic plan that will update and specify LVEDC’s mission, vision, values, principles, and priorities.

Jane Long

Jane Long

“As we continue to vision economic growth and opportunity in the Lehigh Valley, our new strategic plan will take the next steps to build on the excellent work of LVEDC’s staff and partners over the past three years,” said Jane Long, chair of the LVEDC Board of Directors. “I’m particularly excited about the extent to which the board has been actively engaged in this work and thank them for their efforts and dedication.”

The plan will identify specific initiatives for the organization to follow over the next three years in the areas of recruitment, marketing and communication, advocacy and leadership, retention of companies, utilization of resources, and regional strategies.

LVEDC once again engaged Garner Economics, an Atlanta-based economic development firm, to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the Lehigh Valley and recommend economic development marketing and operational strategies for the future.

LVEDC previously retained Garner Economics in 2013 to conduct an analysis of the region and produce a roadmap to help strengthen the region’s global competitiveness. That final report, titled A Blueprint for Success, informed the creation of the organization’s 2014-2017 strategic report.

“In the nearly four years that have transpired, LVEDC has taken the charge to heart, strengthening the organization and better accomplishing its mission of lead generation and facilitating investment and job creation,” Jay Garner, site selector and President of Garner Economics, said in the most recent report.

Studies informing plan

LVEDC’s new strategic plan is also being informed by the results of separate studies by Development Counsellors International (DCI), a New York-based economic development and tourism marketing firm, and Investment Consulting Associates (ICA), a global management advisory firm based in Amsterdam and Boston.

DCI conducted a perception study that provided an external view of the Lehigh Valley. The December 2016 study gathered 149 responses from 85 site selectors and 64 corporate executives from the mid-Atlantic region. It gauged their familiarity with the Lehigh Valley and their perceptions of the state and region, both positive and negative.

ICA attended a two-day familiarization tour of the Lehigh Valley late last year and assessed a mock Request for Information (RFI) that LVEDC prepared, then provided feedback to the organization’s responsiveness and readiness in responding to such site selection requests.

“The nature of economic growth is competition,” Cunningham said. “We are only as good as the assets that we have in the Lehigh Valley, which are numerous. But, other regions also have great assets. Every day we are in a competition with other states, other countries and other parts of Pennsylvania to keep our employers here and to attract new ones. A good strategic plan is a vital foundation to remain

The 2017-2020 LVEDC strategic plan will be available on the organization’s website after it is completed and formally adopted by the Board of Directors.

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