Lamont McClure Delivers State of Northampton County Address
By Colin McEvoy on April 19, 2022
During his annual State of the County address, Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure discussed how the county has risen to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the efforts underway to ensure the county continues to thrive in the years ahead.
“We are all in this together and the success of one of us contributes to the success of all of us,” McClure said. “It’s been a rough two years, but if we keep the focus on protecting our economy, our environment and our citizens, I believe there are better times ahead.”
The address was broadcast virtually on April 19 via Facebook and YouTube by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), which hosted the event. The full address can be found on those pages or viewed below.
McClure noted that the Lehigh Valley ranked among the top 10 metropolitan areas with a population between 200,000 to 1 million nationwide for economic growth, and that 75 projects were completed in Northampton County in the past five years, representing $1.6 billion in investment and the creation or retention of nearly 9,000 jobs.
“Northampton County has weathered this crisis better than other areas of the nation,” McClure said. “We continue to be a prime destination because of our high quality of life: a thriving business community, extensive parks and trail systems, good schools, and easy access to major metropolitan areas.”
McClure discussed the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including efforts to establish drive-through testing centers and distribute vaccines, as well as vaccinating residents and staff at the Gracedale Nursing Home and Northampton County Prison.
The county has prioritized support for small businesses that were adversely affected by the pandemic. Its Department of Community & Economic Development provided grants of up to $15,000 to small businesses, with funding from the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan.
Northampton County will receive an additional $30 million this year to benefit public health and economic stimulus due to the American Rescue Plan, McClure said. As of March, the county has distributed almost $25 million to 1,883 businesses, which can be used for rent, payroll, and other operating expenses.
“Many recipients have contacted me to say the support was essential to keeping their doors open and their staff employed,” he said.
McClure also detailed the county’s efforts to combat opioid and fentanyl addiction. Due to the stresses created by the pandemic, there has been a 4.54% increase in deaths related to heroin and other opioids in Pennsylvania in the past year alone.
Northampton County recently received $11 million as part of a larger state-wide settlement with pharmaceutical distributors which fueled the nationwide opioid epidemic. Those funds are being used to raise awareness about the dangers of opioid addiction, as well as increasing services for those currently on the path to recovery.
“Overcoming addiction is hard but here, in Northampton County, we will not leave anyone behind,” McClure said. “If you need help, we’re going to do everything we can to connect you to a program that will get you on the path to recovery.”
McClure said the county is considering the establishment of its own Health Bureau, which would allow it to address infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV, as well as providing support for chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Additionally, the county has prioritized farmland preservation and the purchase of open space and parkland.
The county, state, and municipalities have invested $51 million in farmland preservation since 1993, and is nearing its 250th farm and 20,000 acres of preserved farmland, McClure said. In 2022, $1 million will be invested in preserving farmland, and $3 million in open space.
“I see Northampton County’s future as green: green for the environment and green for the economy,” McClure said. “That is why I and my administration will continue to seek opportunities to preserve open space and farmland which will help balance our economic activity with our quality of life.”
The State of Northampton County address was supported presenting sponsor Workforce Board Lehigh Valley and gold sponsor Lehigh Valley International Airport. The broadcast was filmed and is being produced by PBS39, Lehigh Valley’s public broadcasting station.
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