A Competitive Realities Report of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
By LVEDC Staff on March 4, 2014
EDITOR’S NOTE: In Part 2 of our look at the Blueprint for Success and Competitive Realities reports, we take a deeper dive into the Assets and Challenges Assessment of Lehigh Valley. These findings come from an exhaustive study by Garner Economics LLC of Atlanta, Ga. There are many assets to cover, but we start with Access to Markets.
The Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, consisting of Lehigh and Northampton counties (region), offers a tremendously strong mix of assets for businesses that are contemplating relocation or expansion. Our approach in conducting the Assets and Challenges Assessment (A&C) is to employ the same criteria and methodology we use when we conduct a community evaluation for our corporate clients when exploring locations for investment.
By understanding its assets and challenges from a location strategy perspective, we believe that the region will be better positioned to compete more effectively and to resolve area challenges that are likely inhibitors to investment projects. By recognizing and understanding the region’s strengths and opportunities, the region will ultimately be able to determine the proper target audience of companies to which it should effectively communicate the area’s assets.
Garner Economics analyzed 66 community and regional factors as part of the assessment. Ratings were identified by evaluating the Region’s position for each of the factors against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the United States, and, in many instances, the benchmarked geographies of Allegheny County as well as the combined counties of Guilford and Forsyth, NC (as selected by the LVEDC to benchmark).
We define a Neutral rating as normal in the realm of economic development opportunity and competitiveness. An Asset rating indicates a positive feature of the area that would be evaluated and rated as a competitive strength versus the benchmark locations. A Challenge rating identifies a factor that is considered a relative deficiency compared to other locations, which should be addressed for future remediation and may be an impediment to economic development if not resolved over time.
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 and differentiate the area from many of the 3,141 counties that exist in the United States.
Access to Markets
The geographic location of the Lehigh Valley and its transportation infrastructure make the region asset-rich with companies engaged in distribution and logistics. The Lehigh Valley is within a one day drive to one-third of all United States consumers and one-half of all Canadian consumers. The region is well positioned to access national and international markets. Interstate 78 runs east/west and I-80 (which also runs east/west) is close by in a neighboring county. There is one north/south corridor, the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Northeast Extension (I-476).
Foreign Trade Zone #272 is located in Lehigh Valley, and three commercial airports are within a 90-mile drive and offer either nonstop or one stop international air service: Lehigh Valley International (ABE), Philadelphia International (PHL) and Newark International (EWR). There are three general aviation airports that are capable of handling corporate aircraft: ABE, Queen City-Allentown, and Braden Airport (which may be facing future closure).
The Lehigh Valley Region is served by two Class 1 railroads (Norfolk Southern and CSX) and there is an Intermodal Terminal located in Northampton County. Two deep-water ports, Port Newark/Elizabeth Marine Terminal and Port of Philadelphia, are within 90 minutes of Lehigh Valley.
Lehigh Valley ranks high in national broadband rankings when compared to its benchmark communities, using data published by the National Telecommunication and Information Administration.
NEXT WEEK: We continue with a look at “Labor” and “Access to Resources” – and more.
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