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First Public Event at Five City Center Highlights Attracting Employees

By Colin McEvoy on June 13, 2019

Attracting and retaining high-quality employees in a competitive work environment is one of the most important issues facing employers today, not just in Lehigh Valley, but in every major region across the nation.

That’s why the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) has been tackling the issue head-on, and made it the topic of a June 12 event during the first public showing of the new 13-story Five City Center office tower in downtown Allentown.

More than 140 people attended the event, which highlighted how some of Lehigh Valley’s largest employers are focusing their efforts on employee experience in an effort to attract top talent and reduce employee turnover.

“As we talk with employers, we regularly hear that the ability to recruit and retain good people is the single most important issue they are facing,” said LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham. “The regions that can supply the most abundant and qualified workforce will be the winners of tomorrow’s jobs.”

That’s why LVEDC’s newly-launched Made Possible in Lehigh Valley marketing campaign focuses not only on the region’s businesses, but also on its people. The campaign seeks to highlight the region’s many success stories and let people know Lehigh Valley is a place they can create a life, a business, or a career, all on their own terms.

The June 12 event included speakers Therese Beck, Director of Employee Experience with Olympus Corporation of the Americas; Dana Nalbantian, Assoc. AIA, Principal, and Studio Director with Gensler; and J.B. Reilly, President of City Center Investment Corporation.

City Center recently unveiled Five City Center, with Fortune 500 company and payroll processing giant ADP occupying its top 10 floors. Constructed of steel and glass, the tower stands 200 feet tall, offering 360-degree views from upper floors and ground floor retail space.

“What we have heard from employers over the past five years of developing more than 1 million square feet of space in downtown Allentown, is that their employees not only want great office space but they also want live-work-play options,” Reilly said.

“Employees are seeking apartments within walking distance of their office, as well as restaurants, bars, entertainment offerings and outdoor space,” he said. “Urban, walkable communities are inviting and important to the millennial workforce in particular.”

Nalbantian said to lure top talent, employers must integrate technology, amenities and unique experiences into their space.

“Looking at the built environment, there is no place that is being more profoundly impacted than the workplace,” she said. “To retain and inspire the best talent, the most successful organizations will be the ones that adapt their workplace strategies to focus on creating a destination with visceral experiences; an ‘always beta approach’ and a purpose through space.”

Beck said because of technology, Olympus competes for talent across the world, and most candidates are seeking not only jobs, but also an employer that shares their values. Research has found 84% of job seekers say the reputation of a company is an important factor in whether they would to pursue a job opportunity there, she said.

Attracting and retaining employees is a top priority of the LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council, which recently formed work groups to address this challenge and other workforce issues.

A talent supply study commissioned by the council found companies in the Lehigh Valley consider a skilled workforce to be essential. Ninety percent of respondents said they need skilled workers, 89% said they expected to hire within the next 12 months, and 71% said they have trouble finding the right people.

The June 12 event was made possible by the support of our presenting sponsor, City Center Allentown; our gold sponsors, AmericaVen and Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN); and our silver sponsors, Campbell Rappold & Yurasits LLP and D’Huy Engineering.

The event was hosted and organized by the LVEDC Brokers & Developers Council, the focus of which is to discuss market trends, identifying development needs and opportunities, and enhancing the strategic focus of LVEDC and the region to support growth and development.

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