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Easton’s Transformation Discussed at LVEDC Fall Signature Event Panel

By Colin McEvoy on October 27, 2022

State Theatre President & CEO Shelley Brown (left) moderated a panel discussion about the city of Easton featuring (respectively) Mike Pichetto, owner of 3rd & Ferry Fish Market; Nicole Hurd, President of Lafayette College; Mark Mulligan of VM Development Group; and Bill Strickland, editorial director of Hearst Enthusiast Group.

The city of Easton has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years. A quintessential small city, it has reinvented itself as a retail and restaurant destination vibrant with cultural attractions, entertainment venues, high-quality eateries, and a glistening riverfront.

“Easton has undergone a tremendous urban renaissance,” Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC). “But it didn’t happen by accident. It took the leadership vision, and investment of both the public and private sectors.”

Easton’s transformation was one of the main topics at the event, which was held at the State Theatre Center for the Arts. LVEDC assembled a panel discussion with some of the city’s changemakers to share their perspectives on what’s driving the change in Easton and what’s in store for the future.

The panel discussion, moderated by State Theatre President & CEO Shelley Brown, included Nicole Hurd, President of Lafayette College; Mark Mulligan of VM Development Group; Mike Pichetto, owner of 3rd & Ferry Fish Market; and Bill Strickland, editorial director of Hearst Enthusiast Group.

Below are a few highlights from the manufacturing panel discussion at the LVEDC Fall Signature Event:

Bill Strickland on attracting talent in the Lehigh Valley

“What I love about Easton is it has elements that allow me to draw from the creative class and the data class. We have a lot of data analysts as well as creatives. So we have food, we’ve got drink, we have an arts scene, we have a diversity in gender and sexuality. You’re welcome here. There’s an outdoor scene. And there’s still a little friction here, you know, Easton’s still developing, so people come and they feel like it’s easy for them or their partners to start a business or to create some new kind of culture, so it’s very attractive. We’ve drawn people from Austin; from Portland, Oregon; many people from Brooklyn. So it really is a magnet.”

Nicole Hurd on Easton’s and Lafayette College’s entrepreneurial nature

Lafayette College President Nicole Hurd speaking during the LVEDC Fall Signature Event. (photos by Marco Calderon)

“We had over 10,000 applications last year, a record for the college, which is very exciting and Easton is part of that draw. We’ve got amazing young people enrolled in the college right now. I think about internships, I think ways they can help your businesses, I think about ways we can do more in that space. So please let us know how we can lean in together. I think about all the opportunities they have with all of you, and can we keep doing that and do more of it. We have very entrepreneurial students, I think it’s in our DNA in Easton, it’s in the DNA of the college, and it’s in the DNA of the faculty and staff on the campus.”

Mike Pichetto on growing opportunity in the city of Easton

“I love the direction the city is going in. I think there’s a lot of opportunity over the next coming years, there’s a lot of very modern apartments coming in which is great. Two hotel projects coming in which is great: you have the Grand Riverview down on Rt. 611 and the Centre Square project. And then two high-end restaurants: one at the Confluence, one at the Seville. I think that over the course of the next couple years it’s going to make Easton more of a center, more of a walkable town, more of a Brooklyn. I think you’ll get more people down here that live, work, eat, and are entertained down here as opposed to just driving in, seeing a show, getting dinner, and then leaving.”

Mark Mulligan on the supportive community in Easton

VM Development Group’s Mark Mulligan speaking at the LVEDC Fall Signature Event. (photos by Marco Calderon)

“VM’s role in this fight is to provide interesting product so that the people that come to work at Lafayette College or come to work at Hearst feel like they’re in Brooklyn. That’s the best part about Easton: it’s small, it’s manageable. You can get a lot done, and the administration and Mayor Sal Panto, everyone gets it at a really great level. Being a developer here, there’s so much support for all the businesses. The college has been so supportive, and having all that support comes together to make such a big difference. Most of the people that come to us have come to us lately because they heard of us as a company and someone recommended Easton, and that is what’s amazing.”

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