2012 LVEDC Awards recognize drivers of the region’s economy
By LVEDC Staff on October 18, 2012
EASTON | Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation’s Awards ceremony held Thursday honored both the past and present.
Held at the iconic 86-year-old State Theatre of the Arts, Mayor Sal Panto noted the economic vitality of his city, and reinforced Easton’s commitment to regionalism for future development.
“Easton is a great city and things are really happening here,” he noted.
LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham made it a point to honor the organization’s founders who have spurred 17 years of vibrant economic growth and praised the companies and individuals who are driving today’s economic expansion.
“At LVEDC, we were founded upon the core principal that we could do better together – as a region, as a public-private partnership – than we could as 62 separate municipalities, three cities and two counties. I am a true believer in the power of regionalism, that we are a stronger knitted together than on our own,” Cunningham said. “Staying together takes work. Anything worthwhile does. But the results speak for themselves.”
Results are one thing all of Thursday night’s award recipients have in common, according to the LVEDC members and staff who nominated them for the honors. Coca-Cola Refreshments, Voltaix, Inc., ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, Allentown Economic Development Corporation and Chuck Stehly have all flexed their muscles to do the heavy lifting that has made the Lehigh Valley a heavyweight in economic growth since 1995.
“No doubt the last five years have brought some hard times, but the Lehigh Valley has not stopped growing,” Cunningham said.
Growing is standard fare for Coca-Cola Refreshments, who was honored with the Business Expansion Project of the Year Award for their prudent $46 million expansion of the Upper Macungie Township plant to include a noncarbonated beverage line to bottle Powerade, vitaminwater and Fuze, better positioning the company for future success in the competitive soft drink market. LVEDC secured a $1.25 million grant through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“Economic development can be thought of in a couple of perspectives,” said Tim Fischbach general manager of Coca-Cola Refreshments in his acceptance speech. “On one side there is the critical work involved with recruiting new businesses to the region. On the other side of the coin is the potential to aid companies in growing and perhaps retaining those companies in the region. Our $46 million expansion clearly falls on the retention side of that equation…“I want to thank LVEDC for this honor and once again it reflects the outstanding results achieved during our partnership with them.”
Locating to our region was Voltaix, Inc., the 2012 LVEDC Award winner for New Business Project of the Year. Voltaix’s arrival in the 72-acre Portland Industrial Park straddling Portland and Upper Mount Bethel Township in the northeastern corner of Northampton County proved to be a shot-in-the-arm for the entire Slate Belt region. The company is a global leader in the manufacturing of a number of electronics-related products as a provider of materials that enhance the performance of semiconductor chips and solar cells. LVEDC assisted Voltaix and the Governor’s Action Team in securing a $2.7 million funding offer from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Mark Wilkinson, executive vice president of Voltaix, made this matter-of-fact announcement during his acceptance address.
“We make performing enhancing materials for computer chips,” said Wilkinson. “…And shortly Upper Mount Bethel Township will be inside every computer in the world.”
While the Slate Belt won when Voltaix set up shop there, downtown Bethlehem was a winner thanks to the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, who received the Urban Project of the Year honor Thursday night. The four-story, contemporary arts center’s design was inspired by the former Bethlehem Steel site, embracing material and craft over abstract concept. The annual economic impact to the region has been estimated at $39 million annually and has created nearly 200 new full- and part-time jobs. Accepting the honor was Jeff Parks, president and CQO of ArtsQuest.
“This project has invested more than $60 million into this brownfield site, which at the time was the largest brownfield site under development in the country,” Parks said.
Cunningham noted during his remarks Thursday night that “LVEDC is proud to be a connector” and recognized as an integral partner in the organization’s mission to advance the Lehigh Valley’s economy with the Partner of the Year award was the Allentown Economic Development Corporation. Showing a penchant for entrepreneurial development and a progressive slant to future enterprise, AEDC has created and directed the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center- one of the first business incubators in the Lehigh Valley and the launch pad for more than 30 businesses. And AEDC’s continued innovation in business incubation is manifested in the founding of the Hive 4A, featuring the Lehigh Valley’s first co-working space and first hacker space.
“I want to thank the dedicated, motivated and brilliant employees of AEDC and our board of directors that is part of that public-private partnership,” said Scott Unger, executive director of AEDC.
While LVEDC is a coalition of private and public-sector organization and volunteers who focus on telling the story of our Lehigh Valley to ensure its continued economic prosperity, according to Cunningham, Chuck Stehly was recognized for individual commitment to LVEDC when he received the LVEDC MVP award. Having spent six years as a board director with LVEDC, Stehly also serves on several committees and was recognized, in part, for offering his counsel to chart the organization’s future. In addition, Stehly, the director of business development for Corporate Environments in Bethlehem, was praised for being a tireless advocate for the organization.
“I never really got out very much of the Lehigh Valley, but the benefit of that has been the friendships and the relationships that have developed over the years,” said Stehly. “I want to thank LVEDC for this great award, I want to say thank you to all of my friends at Corporate Environments who challenge each and every one us to get out there and give back to this great community.”
The celebration is one of LVEDC’s signature events and its spirit of collaboration offered a preview into the promise 2013 holds for continued economic growth in which all Lehigh Valley residents ultimately benefit.
And The Winners Are… The 2012 LVEDC Awards Honor Those Supporting Lehigh Valley’s Economic Development
Thank you to everyone who joined us last Thursday at the State Theatre in Easton for the 2012 LVEDC Awards. We were pleased to honor the following companies and individual for[...]Continue to Next Page