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Report finds Lehigh Valley rich with 38 economic assets

By LVEDC Staff on February 25, 2014

LVEDC logo smallEDITOR’S NOTE: What follows is the first dive into the Blueprint for Success sustainable economic development strategy for Lehigh Valley. Each week, LVEDC will roll out another portion of the far-reaching report and its competitive realities companion piece.

CHAPTER 1: WHERE THE LEHIGH VALLEY STANDS AS A PLACE FOR BUSINESS

A SUMMARY OF THE COMPETITIVE REALITIES REPORT

Grounded by decades of economic development, site location analysis, and industry cluster targeting experience, Garner Economics began the project by using a rigorous set of techniques based on fully sourced and reliable data sets to completely understand the current economic state of the Lehigh Valley.

The resulting Competitive Realities Report (CRR) was the first of two reports provided to the LVEDC. The CRR is a compilation of local facts and data points with quantitative analysis and some subjective opinions noted in the Assets and Challenges Assessment.

Together, the Assets and Challenges Assessment, Benchmarking Scorecard, and Stakeholder Input documented where the Valley stands against its benchmark regions, its assets and challenges as a business location, and provided feedback and perceptions from a broad range of stakeholders.

As the summary below indicates, of the 66 variables analyzed, 38 are considered an Asset and 11 a Challenge (17 rated as Neutral). This ratio of Assets to Challenges is one of the strongest positive ratios we have conducted and analyzed over the last 11 years. The diverse and rich assets of the Lehigh Valley have made the region a global competitor. Better leveraging the region’s assets will be key as the Lehigh Valley capitalizes on its position among the top-fifth of metropolitan areas nationwide.

Assets and Challenges

The Assets and Challenges Assessment began with a windshield tour of the region during which the Lehigh Valley was assessed against a set list of 66 criteria from a site-selection perspective. Garner Economics assessed the region based on the qualities, elements, and infrastructure that a business will look for when considering the Valley as a place for its operations.

The assessment was both an objective and subjective evaluation of the Valley and employs the following dashboard to illustrate the results. By knowing what challenges or gaps exist, the region can take the steps necessary to ameliorate a negative situation, strengthen its overall “product,” and be a more attractive business location. Likewise, by knowing the region’s strengths, the LVEDC can better market them in its efforts to attract external businesses.

OUR ASSETS

  1. Centrally located for major regional market
  2. Centrally located for national market
  3. Well positioned to serve international markets
  4. Interstate highways
  5. Rail service
  6. Port facilities (water or inland)
  7. Within 90 minutes of commercial air passenger service
  8. General aviation airport capable of handling corporate aircraft
  9. Broadband speeds and availability
  10. Cost of labor
  11. Availability of post-secondary vocational training
  12. Within 1/2 hour of major university/college
  13. Availability of engineering program
  14. Availability of agricultural products for food processing
  15. Availability of manufacturing processes
  16. Availability of water and sewer capacity
  17. Adequate level of professional staff
  18. Involvement of both public and private sectors
  19. Level of funding for local economic development program
  20. Availability of suitable office space
  21. Availability of low-interest loans for small business
  22. Availability of adequate water and sewer lines to industrial sites
  23. Availability of tax incentives (state and local)
  24. Quality of local elementary and secondary education
  25. Quality of post-secondary education
  26. State overall business tax climate index as ranked by the Tax Foundation.Org
  27. State and local sales and use taxes; service taxes
  28. Personal income taxes
  29. Availability of executive-level housing
  30. Availability of moderate-cost housing
  31. Availability of apartments or rentals
  32. Level of crime
  33. Level of cultural activity
  34. Availability of recreational opportunities
  35. Presence of major sports events
  36. Availability of adequate medical facilities
  37. Quality of local restaurants
  38. Appearance of the Central Business District(s)

NEXT WEEK: The area’s Challenges and Neutral variables.

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Lehigh ValleyQuick Facts

By the Numbers
$43.3 Billion

2020 Gross Domestic Product

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City Center Lehigh Valley
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10.6% of Labor Force
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Lehigh Valley Health Network
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$3.8 Billion

Exports in 2019

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Air Products
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$66,865

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676,700

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347,612

Labor Force

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26.6% of Labor Force
Employed in "Eds & Meds" sectors

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5,073

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NFI
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14% of the total community college degrees awarded in PA

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$7.1 Billion

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69th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. by population

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10,754 degrees awarded by Lehigh Valley colleges (2017-18 academic year)

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82,270 employed in "Eds & Meds" sectors

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149,000

Population between ages 18 and 34

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