Halfway Through the Year, 2017 is Already a Memorable One for the Lehigh Valley

By Colin McEvoy on July 6, 2017

The Lehigh Valley is the subject of a 24-page supplement in American Way, the in-flight magazine for American Airlines.

The Lehigh Valley is the subject of a 24-page supplement in American Way, the in-flight magazine for American Airlines.

We’re just past the halfway point for 2017, and it’s already been a memorable year for the Lehigh Valley so far in terms of economic development and regional success stories. The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) has compiled a list of some of the biggest stories from the past six months.

Lehigh Valley Makes the Top 5

The Lehigh Valley has been ranked one of the top five overall regions in the Northeastern U.S. in terms of economic development, according to Site Selection magazine, one of the leading executive magazines covering corporate site selection and relocation.

The Lehigh Valley ranked behind only the New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and the Boston metropolitan statistical areas in the list, and was the only region in the population range between 200,000 and 1 million to make the top five.

“You need only to look at the four heavy-hitters the Lehigh Valley shares that list with to see that we are swinging well above our weight class,” said LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham.

American Airlines Highlights Lehigh Valley

American Airlines is the largest airline in the world, serving nearly 200 million passengers a year. Soon, as those passengers settle into their seats and pick up their in-flight magazines, they’ll be reading all about the Lehigh Valley.

The region is the focus of a 24-page dedicated supplement in American Way, the in-flight magazine for American Airlines. It will be in the seat of every single flight for the airline, highlighting the Lehigh Valley on a platform unlike any it has ever seen before.

American Airlines offers 6,700 flights daily to 350 destinations in 50 countries. Past communities to be featured in Spotlight include Miami, St. Louis, Orlando, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Arizona.

LVEDC Continues International Focus

LVEDC hosted a visit Pennsylvania’s international investment representatives for a discussion about foreign direct investment and international business attraction and recruitment in the Lehigh Valley and Pennsylvania.

Matthew Tuerk, LVEDC Vice President of Economic Development and Marketing, embarked on a 10-day tour through China in May and June, meeting with companies and officials to discuss the benefits of establishing U.S. operations in the Lehigh Valley.

This marks LVEDC’s second international business development tour in as many years. LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham visited Western Europe in 2015, which directly resulted in the French company Safran establishing operations in the Lehigh Valley.

Additionally, this May, LVEDC hosted a visit by business investment representatives from all over the world, who work through the state’s Office of International Business Development to attract businesses to the Lehigh Valley and Pennsylvania.

Manufacturing Continues to Thrive

Manufacturing once again became the Lehigh Valley’s top sector for economic output last year. That drew the attention of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, who toured the Allentown-based Vastex International, one of several manufacturers expanding in the region.

“This area is booming,” Wolf said during the March 8 visit. “Its central location and proximity to New York and other markets makes the Lehigh Valley very attractive to a lot of people.”

Vastex broke ground in May on a new 37,500 square-foot Bethlehem facility, with plans for an eventual expansion. Due to projects like these, LVEDC was invited to speak at the ACG Annual Manufacturing Conference last month about “The Resurgence of U.S. Manufacturing.”

More Good News From LVEDC

Governor Tom Wolf speaking with Vastex International President Mark Vasilantone and LVEDC Vice President of Finance John Kingsley during his visit to the Allentown manufacturer.

Governor Tom Wolf speaking with Vastex International President Mark Vasilantone and LVEDC Vice President of Finance John Kingsley during his visit to the Allentown manufacturer.

LVEDC announced in February that it had experienced a record-breaking year in private investment, totaling more than $625,000. As a result, the organization took out a full-page Morning Call advertisement and launched a billboard campaign in recognition of its investors.

LVEDC also announcing hirings for two key positions this year, with George Lewis joining the team as the new Director of Research, and Karianne Gelinas becoming Director of Talent Supply, a new, grant-funding position for the organization.

This year also marked the release of three new LVEDC videos (highlighting the companies Guardian Life Insurance, Tyber Medical, and Michelman Steel), as well as the publication of a new issue of Lehigh Valley Economic Development magazine.

More Lehigh Valley Rankings

Site Selection magazine wasn’t the only publication to take notice of the Lehigh Valley this year. As the region gains more and more national attention, it has found itself in a wide range of “Best of” lists from various magazines and websites.

Among them were U.S. News and World Report’s “Top Places to Live in the U.S.,” Forbes“Best Places to Retire,” Money magazine’s “Best Places for New College Graduates,” and GoodCall’s “2017 Overlooked Dream Cities.”

Events and Entrepreneurs

LVEDC hosted a panel discussion the “Future of Logistics” at the NFI facility in Upper Macungie Township, with speakers Michael Landsburg of NFI and Peter Christian of Enterprise Systems Partners (respectively).

LVEDC has hosted several successful events in 2017 so far, including a panel discussion on the “Future of Logistics,” and a Conversation & Cocktails event with Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

The organization also co-hosted, along with the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, a panel discussion about “Manufacturing Momentum in Bethlehem.” The event included speakers from such companies as B Braun Medical, Curtiss-Wright, and OraSure Technlogies.

Soltech Solutions, a manufacturer of state-of-the-art LED grow lights that moved to Bethlehem this year, was another participant. Soltech is one of several Lehigh Valley startup success stories from 2017, along with Amorphic Tech, Coldedge Technologies, Orbweaver Sourcing, Sunbound Technology, and UBme.

Don Cunningham: Lehigh Valley is Launching Past Billy Joel’s Allentown

This column, written by LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham, originally appeared in The Morning Call and on the newspaper's website on July 6, 2017. (Click here to read[...]

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