Report finds Lehigh Valley rich with 38 economic assets
By LVEDC Staff on February 25, 2014
EDITOR’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.
- Centrally located for major regional market
- Centrally located for national market
- Well positioned to serve international markets
- Interstate highways
- Rail service
- Port facilities (water or inland)
- Within 90 minutes of commercial air passenger service
- General aviation airport capable of handling corporate aircraft
- Broadband speeds and availability
- Cost of labor
- Availability of post-secondary vocational training
- Within 1/2 hour of major university/college
- Availability of engineering program
- Availability of agricultural products for food processing
- Availability of manufacturing processes
- Availability of water and sewer capacity
- Adequate level of professional staff
- Involvement of both public and private sectors
- Level of funding for local economic development program
- Availability of suitable office space
- Availability of low-interest loans for small business
- Availability of adequate water and sewer lines to industrial sites
- Availability of tax incentives (state and local)
- Quality of local elementary and secondary education
- Quality of post-secondary education
- State overall business tax climate index as ranked by the Tax Foundation.Org
- State and local sales and use taxes; service taxes
- Personal income taxes
- Availability of executive-level housing
- Availability of moderate-cost housing
- Availability of apartments or rentals
- Level of crime
- Level of cultural activity
- Availability of recreational opportunities
- Presence of major sports events
- Availability of adequate medical facilities
- Quality of local restaurants
- Appearance of the Central Business District(s)
NEXT WEEK: The area’s Challenges and Neutral variables.
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