Cunningham presents at 2014 Freight Academy event

By LVEDC Staff on May 6, 2014

On May 1, Don Cunningham, LVEDC president and CEO, served as an instructor at the I-95 Corridor Coalition’s 2014 Freight Academy session held at the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation at Rutgers University.

In essence, the head of LVEDC took the Lehigh Valley to the home of Scarlet Knights and explained why some of the top and most forward-thinking companies in the world have spurred the stunning growth that’s happened in the Lehigh Valley.

“A great team has a lot of ways it can beat you,” Cunningham told CFA attendees. “And the Lehigh Valley has a lot of ways that it can benefit a company.”

Cunningham’s presentation – aptly titled “The Art of the Deal” – provided insider accounts of some of the most noteworthy megadeals that have gone down in the Lehigh Valley over the past two years. One example was Ocean Spray’s decision to build their crown jewel $110 million state-of-the-art bottling plant in Upper Macungie Township. That project is expected to create a total of 160 jobs.

“This deal took four years to pan out and had many stops and starts,” Cunningham said. “Companies have to find what is right for them, but we are always confident in our standing because they know our region fundamentally has what they are looking for. We have the right mix of infrastructure, training opportunities, facilities and location to make it an attractive locale to consider.”

Sometimes though a little push is needed to turn a prospect into a deal – and that was the case with Ocean Spray.

“The wastewater treatment plant in Upper Macungie Township was huge,” Cunningham noted. “And that along with the cooperation of state and local organizations that brought the deal to fruition.”

Thanks the Ocean Spray deal, National Freight Industries, a third-party logistic supplier, built a massive 980,000-square-foot warehouse to meet Ocean Spray’s distribution needs.

“We love the Lehigh Valley,” noted Jeff Brown, NFI president and vice chairman in the presentation. “Its logistics setup in reference to the northeast and New York City is fantastic.”

The Lehigh Valley is home to some of the biggest companies on the planet. Air Products & Chemicals, PPL Services Corp., Crayola, Olympus America, Just Born and C.F. Martin & Company are among the companies who have established headquarters in the two-county region. Manufacturing giants B. Braun Medical, Lutron Electronics, Mack Trucks, Victaulic, LSI Logic Corp., and Bosch Rexroth also maintain a presence in Lehigh Valley and food and beverage megastars Nestle Waters, Ice River Springs, Coca-Cola, Niagara Waters, Kraft Foods, Bimbo Bakeries and the aforementioned Ocean Spray also call the Lehigh Valley home.

“The Lehigh Valley today is focused on sectors such as financial services, health care, life sciences and technology along with becoming a distribution hub serving some of the largest U.S. markets,” Cunningham said.

The region has received a bevy of recent accolades.

The National Association for Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP) has recognized the Lehigh Valley as one of two “National Emerging Markets” and Site Selection magazine ranked the Lehigh Valley second in the nation compared with all other metropolitan areas ranging in population between 200,000 and 1,000,000.

“LVEDC will continue to work with all our private and public-sector partners to continue the momentum we’ve established in the Lehigh Valley to make it a top-flight business location,” Cunningham said.

The CFA is a biennial program that is designed to train public-sector agency staff that are responsible for the planning, operation or management work that impacts how goods are transported. The week-long session examined timely topics such as large increases in freight movements, significant changes in the goods movement industry and the need to integrate freight facilities and operations that are part of larger community goals.

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