LVEDC Showcases How Great Site Selection Pitches Are Made
By Nicole Radzievich Mertz on September 4, 2020
The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) landed one of two spots at a national workshop designed to provide a “peek behind the wizard’s curtain” when it comes to great site selection pitches.
During the two-hour Zoominar organized by Consultant Connect, LVEDC Vice President of Business Attraction, Retention and Expansion Matt Tuerk delivered a mock proposal to choose a site for a new food manufacturing facility to meet the growing demand for the cereal, flour, granola and other products in the eastern and central parts of the country. Go Topeka made the second mock pitch for its Kansas community.
Three veteran site selection consultants asked questions, critiqued both proposals and left attendees with a better understanding of how to tell a more compelling story with their own resources.
“An invitation from an organization like this one is a validation of the national success we have had as a region for business investment in the food and beverage industry,” Tuerk said.
Consultant Connect, a Michigan-based group known for bridging the gap between leading economic developers and location consultants, developed the Sept. 3 virtual forum to help economic professionals improve their efforts to attract companies in the food and beverage industry. Rather than a traditional forum, Consultant Connect reached out to economic development professionals with a successful track record to make a play at a fictious project from a food and beverage company.
Faye Davis, Consultant Connect director, described the event as a “peek behind the wizard’s curtain.”
“Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation was asked to participate because during planning calls with the three site consultants who are participating LVEDC came highly recommended as a community who has consistently shown excellence in responding to — and landing — food and beverage industry-related projects,” she said.
In his presentation, Tuerk touted Lehigh Valley’s attractive mix of assets to the food and beverage industry: a central location with well-developed transportation infrastructure, agricultural products for food processing, and the availability of water and sewer capacity lines.
He said the location, which would give the company access to major metro markets, has been attractive to logistics giants, including FedEx and Amazon. Meanwhile, Lehigh Valley has a work force skilled in the industry considering the high concentration of similar businesses in the area. In Lehigh Valley 225 food and beverage manufacturers employ more than 5,000 in the food and beverage industries with a combined location quotient well above the national average.
Tuerk noted that food processors have founded the maker of marshmallow Peeps – Just Born – relocated to Lehigh Valley during the Great Depression to Stuffed Puffs, a young company that uses custom-designed manufacturing processes to make chocolate-filled marshmallows.
Stuffed Puffs was a graduate of The Factory, a Bethlehem-based innovation center for startup food, beverage and pet health companies. It’s one of many local institutions that help foster the segment of the industry, Tuerk said.
He noted that bakerly/Norac Foods, a French maker of baked pasta and frozen desserts, worked with Northampton Community College when it was adapting its European production for its new facility in Forks Township.
Meanwhile, Lehigh Valley is arguably the birthplace of the organic movement with the Rodale Institute, a nonprofit that researches organic farming.
Lehigh Valley was ranked the third-best region in the Northeast for 2019 in terms of economic development projects completed, under construction or announced, according to 2019 rankings by Site Selection magazine.
Site Selection is one of the most widely read and well respected economic development publications in the United States. Each year, the magazine announces the best-performing metropolitan areas in the country as part of its prestigious Governor’s Cup Awards.
Consultant Connect aims to bridge the gap between site selection professionals and economic development specialists, giving transparent feedback, insight and business relationships. It has served more than 230 national and international clients since 2013.
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