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LVEDC 2015 Year in Review: Development Projects

By Colin McEvoy on January 5, 2016

A Safran employee repairing the landing gear of a Boeing 787 at the company's Toronto facility. (Photo courtesy Christian Fleury / CAPA Pictures / Safran)

A subsidiary of the French multinational aerospace company Safran opened a wheel and brake repair facility in Lower Nazareth Township, one of several major Lehigh Valley development projects from 2015. (Photo courtesy Christian Fleury / CAPA Pictures / Safran)

The Lehigh Valley has long been considered one of the top-performing regions in the country for economic development, and judging by the region’s accomplishments in 2015, that trend is going to continue.

It has been a tremendous year for the Lehigh Valley. The regional GDP has surpassed $35 billion for the first time in its history. The region’s two Fortune 500 companies — PPL Corporation and Air Products — completed or announced spinoffs. Long-anticipated construction projects, like the American Parkway Bridge and Hamilton Crossings, finally came to fruition.

In addition, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) has tracked 19 business attraction or expansion projects completed in 2015, which will result in the creation of more than 920 new jobs for the region, and the retention of over 3,600 existing jobs.

“We’ve seen many great success stories in the Lehigh Valley this year, with job growth continuing to rise and our regional economy remaining the most balanced and diverse in the state,” said Don Cunningham, LVEDC President and CEO. “Our manufacturing base is strong, our e-commerce community continues to grow rapidly, and international companies have come to recognize the Lehigh Valley as a perfect entry into the Northeastern U.S. markets.”

Some of the bigger attraction/expansion projects from 2015 include:

Guardian Life Insurance. One of the nation’s largest mutual life providers, Guardian began construction on a three-story corporate office building in Hanover Township, Northampton County. This $70 million project demonstrates the company’s continued commitment to the region, and ensures 1,500 jobs will remain in the region. LVEDC had worked with the company since early 2014 on the site search and to help facilitate the project.

MBD/Safran. Messier-Buggati-Dotwy, a subsidiary of the French multinational aerospace company Safran, opened a wheel and brake repair facility in Lower Nazareth Township, serving such commercial airline brands as Boeing, Airbus, and JetBlue. The project reflects the growth in international companies investing in the Lehigh Valley, and was announced as LVEDC officials embarked on an business development tour through Western Europe.

SunOpta held a grand opening ceremony in November for a $25 million addition to its Upper Macungie Township facility.

SunOpta held a grand opening ceremony in November for a $25 million addition to its Upper Macungie Township facility.

SunOpta. A global manufacturer of natural, organic and specialty food products, SunOpta celebrated the grand opening of a $25 million addition to its Upper Macungie Township facility this year, creating 48 jobs and retaining another 52. One of the company’s largest capital expansion projects to date, the expansion boosted the company’s aseptic beverage processing and filling capacities.

Reeb Millwork. This Fountain Hill-based manufacturer of millwork products undertook a $38 million expansion project to open a second facility on former Bethlehem Steel Land. This 175,000-square-foot facility will create 147 jobs and retain 267 more. The Governor’s Action Team, which often works collaboratively with LVEDC, helped secure crucial funding for the project.

Primark. This leading European fashion retailer chose the Lehigh Valley to make its first presence in the northeastern United States, working with the contract logistics firm Exel to open a 670,000 square-foot distribution center in Bethlehem. Creating about 100 new jobs, the facility will serve as Primark’s primary distribution center for the entire Northeast.

C&S Wholesale Grocers. The country’s largest wholesale grocery supply company expanded its already significant Lehigh Valley presence when it announced an expansion project that will add 600 new jobs over the next three years. C&S plans to invest at least $15 million into its facility in the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park IV in Hanover Township, Northampton County.

St. Luke’s University Hospital Network. One of the Lehigh Valley’s largest employers, St. Luke’s announced this year it would relocate about 1,000 employees into the former Agere Systems headquarters in Hanover Township, Lehigh County. The cost-saving measure breathed new life into an iconic building that had previously been struggling with a large amount of vacancy.

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