Armstrong: Lehigh County Investing in ‘Quality of Life’ Projects

By Nicole Radzievich Mertz on February 24, 2023

Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong delivers his annual State of Lehigh County Address at Coca-Cola Park. The LVEDC hosted the event. (Photo/Glenn Koehler)

From its expansive trail system to the Lehigh Valley Zoo, Lehigh County invested millions of dollars last year in parks and other attractions that make the region a desirable place to live, work and visit, Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong said Feb. 23 during his Annual State of the County Address.

The county installed a new mountain bike trail at Trexler Park and completed another nature trail, connecting Allentown to Whitehall Township. It obtained a grant to complete a 3.5-mile missing link on the Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Corridor, part of a 165-mile D&L trail along those rivers.

The racing track at the Lehigh Valley Preferred Cycling Center, a prestigious velodrome in Trexlertown where top cyclists compete, will be redone. The Penguin exhibit and entrance at the Lehigh Valley Zoo were renovated.

And the county joined a coalition of community organizations that saved “the Pigs” by paying for upgrades at Coca-Cola Park, the baseball stadium in Allentown. Without those upgrades, the IronPigs minor league team would have lost its affiliation with MLB.

“There was a problem: we were going to lose one of the best things we have in this area. We got together, everybody united, and we saved the Pigs,” Armstrong told the crowd who gathered for the address at Coca-Cola Park. “The quality of life here is just fantastic.”

The region’s high quality of life is a major economic asset of the Lehigh Valley because it attracts talent. The availability of a skilled workforce is a major driver of businesses decisions where to stay, expand and relocate. The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. (LVEDC), which hosted the “State of the County” address, partners with other organizations to promote the region’s quality of life in the Made Possible in Lehigh Valley initiative.

The Lehigh Valley is fast-growing region in the heart of the Northeast market, within a day’s drive of a third of the U.S. population. In the last decade, the population grew by 5.8% to 689,167, outpacing Pennsylvania’s growth. Young people, between 18-34, played an outsized role in that growth.

“I’ll tell you why it’s growing,” Armstrong said. “It’s growing because it’s a great place to live.”

Among the other accomplishments and priorities Armstrong mentioned in his address were that Lehigh County:

  • Has preserved 27,000 acres of farmland,
  • Completed a $15 million renovation to the Historic Lehigh County Courthouse,
  • Is planning a 240-room, four-story addition to Cedarbrook Senior Care and Rehabilitation,
  • Will propose $150 tax rebate for volunteer firefighters,
  • Will begin digitizing its 911 system,
  • Is investing in more ankle bracelets for inmates, which will provide more opportunities for them to return to the workforce, and
  • Will be bringing job and skills training to inmates while they are in jail.

Workforce Board Lehigh Valley is the Presenting Sponsor of Armstrong’s address. LVEDC also appreciates the generosity of sponsors Lehigh Valley International Airport and St. Luke’s University Health Network for their support of the event.

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