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Don Cunningham Meets the Press

By LVEDC Staff on July 16, 2012

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) formally announced today during a news conference that it has selected Don Cunningham as the organization’s next president and chief executive officer.

Cunningham has more than 20 years of experience in both the private and public sectors. Most recently as Chief Executive of Lehigh County.

Cunningham will lead a team of 18 employees with a rich knowledge of the region, and connections with local, regional, and national businesses and government agencies. LVEDC has 314 private sector investors and a $2.4 million budget. Cunningham’s starting date will be July 9.

“After a lengthy and thorough process that attracted numerous highly-qualified candidates from across the country the consensus is that Don brings an excellent balance of executive management experience, hands-on project experience with economic development and a vision for the organization. Don is a professional with private-and public-sector experience, his primary role has been to manage complex organizations, budgets and staff” said Don Bernhard, LVEDC’s Chairman. “Throughout the interview process Don demonstrated a vision and passion for the success of the Lehigh Valley along with the ability to manage a complex organization such as LVEDC. Don is a professional who is comfortable representing the Lehigh Valley and LVEDC at the highest levels with commissioners, mayors, governors as well as with CEOs of private companies.”

“I’m excited by the opportunity to serve LVEDC and continue to serve our Lehigh Valley,” Cunningham said. “The purpose of LVEDC is to create jobs and opportunity, and to expand the tax base while working to reuse our industrial sites and improve our urban cores as we grow the Lehigh Valley. Our partnership with ALL of our local businesses, with Discover Lehigh Valley, the Lehigh Valley Partnership, the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Northampton and Lehigh Counties and all 62 municipalities are paramount to helping us create more jobs and grow more businesses in our Valley.

“We will put a greater focus on marketing the Lehigh Valley, and telling our story. We can drive even greater awareness of our region and help to attract and recruit new business while increasing regional identity and driving growth and expansion of existing businesses,” he added.

For the last 23 years, Cunningham has worked for some of the leading and most respected companies, institutions and governments in the Lehigh Valley as a director of media and marketing operations, a chief executive, and a cabinet secretary. Those entities include Moravian College, PPL, the City of Bethlehem, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the County of Lehigh. He has been responsible for managing budgets ranging from $50 million to $4 billion and has overseen economic development and/or urban growth initiatives, resulting in more than $2 billion in new investments and the creation of tens of thousands of jobs. As county executive, he has been responsible for a work force of nearly 3,000 full- and part-time employees.

He is credited with leading the economic renaissance of the City of Bethlehem, invigorating its downtown with a strong retail and restaurant district, and laying the foundation for re-use of the former Bethlehem Steel Corp. properties.

As Secretary of the Department of General Services, oversaw $4 billion of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Budget, creating innovative ways to save money and to invest state tax dollars to grow the urban core in cities across Pennsylvania, including Allentown.

As Lehigh County Executive, Don restructured the county’s economic development operations to make economic growth and community regionalization the focus of his administration. The result has been the relocation of companies to Lehigh County even during the recent national economic recession and the development of a Congress of Governments, which includes all 25 municipalities, working together to find regional solutions and improving partnerships that resulted in completing complicated development projects, like the recent decision for Ocean Spray to relocated its manufacturing operations to Lehigh County.

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$40.1 Billion

Gross Domestic Product

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11% of Labor Force
Employed in Manufacturing

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$3.65 Billion

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26,000

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345,260

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26.1% of Labor Force
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5,073

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14% of the total community college degrees awarded in PA

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$7.4 Billion

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10,328 degrees awarded by colleges and universities

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81,000 employed in "Eds & Meds" sectors

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