10 Things You Didn’t Know from the LVEDC 2020 Annual Report
By Colin McEvoy on March 22, 2021
Although 2020 will be forever synonymous with the COVID-19 pandemic, the year was a significant one for the Lehigh Valley economy on multiple levels. The economic successes, challenges, and opportunities from the year were detailed in the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) 2020 Annual Report.
Released on March 16 during the organization’s virtual Annual Meeting program, the report highlights various aspects of the Lehigh Valley economy and documents significant projects, stories, and economic trends from throughout the year 2020. Below are just a sampling of some of the facts featured in the LVEDC 2020 Annual Report, which can be downloaded here and viewed below.
The Lehigh Valley saw more than 7 million square feet of development in 2020. LVEDC tracked 41 major expansion or new development projects during the year, which created or retained more than 6,000 jobs and accounted for 7.1 million square feet either announced, under construction, or completed. A full list and map of these projects can be found in the report.
The GDP of the Lehigh Valley is larger than that of three states in the country. The region’s gross domestic product of $43.4 billion in 2019 (the most recent year for which data is available) exceeds that of Alaska ($42.2 billion), Wyoming ($33.8 billion), and Vermont ($29.1 billion). The Lehigh Valley’s GDP ranks 65th out of the 384 metropolitan areas in the United States.
The Lehigh Valley economy received widespread national media coverage in 2020. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today were just a few of the publications that highlighted the Lehigh Valley’s economic success stories. The region and its companies were also featured on television programs like PBS NewsHour and CBS News Sunday Morning.
The region has seen significant job recovery since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. When the pandemic hit, the Lehigh Valley lost more jobs in a single month than it did during the entire Great Recession. But the region gained jobs for eight months in a row in 2020, and recovered three quarters of the jobs lost by the end of the year.
Very few of the Lehigh Valley’s industrial buildings are big-box warehouses. Only 5% of the total industrial and flex space in the region comprises buildings larger than 300,000 square-feet. This was detailed in a special section of the Annual Report providing a year-end outlook of the Lehigh Valley’s industrial, office, and flex real estate markets.
The Lehigh Valley ranked in the Top 5 markets for industrial space under construction as a percentage of total industrial space (about 6%) in the third quarter of 2020. It was the only Northeast market to make the Top 20. This reflects the strength of the Lehigh Valley’s e-commerce industry, which will only continue to grow as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nearly 700,000 square feet of office construction was underway in the Lehigh Valley in 2020. This was the highest amount of any region in the greater Philadelphia market, and was primarily due to the Air Products global headquarters in Upper Macungie Township. In 2020, all office construction in the Lehigh Valley was for owner-occupied or medical space.
The Made Possible in Lehigh Valley coalition continued to grow throughout 2020. This exciting and dynamic regional marketing initiative is supported by such organizations as LVEDC, Discover Lehigh Valley, the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors, and the Lehigh Valley International Airport.
Thousands of viewers tuned in for LVEDC’s Executive Video Interview Series. The organization spoke with nearly a dozen new leaders at some of the Lehigh Valley’s largest companies and institutions, attracting more than 5,000 views. Each of these 30-minute, one-on-one interviews can be found on LVEDC’s website and YouTube channel.
LVEDC supported dozens of redevelopment projects through federal grant funding. The organization’s Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative program received a $500,000 Hazardous Assessment Grant from the EPA, which closed in 2020. It ultimately supported 24 environmental site assessments and two cleanup and redevelopment plans.
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