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Lehigh Valley Again Ranks Among Top 5 in Northeast for Economic Development

By Colin McEvoy on March 2, 2021

The Lehigh Valley ranked among the Top 5 regions of any population size in the Northeast in terms of economic development projects completed, and in the Top 10 nationally for regions with a population size between 200,000 and 1 million.

Despite the economic challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis, the Lehigh Valley has once again ranked among the Top 5 regions in the Northeast for 2020 in terms of economic development projects completed, according to Site Selection.

Additionally, for a fifth consecutive year, the Lehigh Valley was ranked among the Top 10 regions nationwide with a population size between 200,000 and 1 million, coming ahead of such areas as Omaha, Neb.; Durham, N.C.; and Akron, Ohio.

“Our high ranking again this year shows that economic development activity has not stopped the Lehigh Valley despite the coronavirus pandemic,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC). “We remain an attractive market competitive on a national level, even against much larger metropolitan areas.”

Site Selection is one of the most widely read and well-respected economic development publications in the United States. These rankings are part of its prestigious Governor’s Cup Awards, which each year determines the best-performing metropolitan areas in the country.

“The Lehigh Valley has again ranked in the Top 10 MSAs for the most qualified projects in the 200,000 to 1 million population category,” says Mark Arend, Editor in Chief of Site Selection. “This signals to our readers that cities and towns in the Lehigh Valley are attracting not only attention but capital investment from companies seeking to expand their operations there. They are finding the location attributes they require.”

Site Selection identified 22 development projects in Lehigh Valley from 2020 for its rankings. The magazine does not disclose which projects it has identified, nor how the magazine reached that figure.

Business attraction, expansion and retention projects tracked by Site Selection may differ from those presented by LVEDC due to the magazine’s specific criteria for inclusion. LVEDC has tracked 41 major projects for 2020, creating or retaining more than 6,000 jobs

Those projects will be detailed in the forthcoming LVEDC Annual Report, which will be released on March 16, the same day as the organization’s 2021 Annual Meeting. Visit here for more information or to pre-register for that event.

Some of the major 2020 projects identified by LVEDC include OraSure Techologies expanding its manufacturing operations in Bethlehem, U.S. Specialty Formulations is expanding its pharmaceutical facility in Allentown, and Sharp acquiring a new pharmaceutical packaging facility in Lower Macungie Township.

Other significant economic development projects from 2019 included A.P. Deauville relocating in Lehigh Valley from New Jersey; Bowery Farming opening a vertical farming operation in Bethlehem; Flexicon expanding operations in Bethlehem Township; Suncup Juice opening a juice production facility; and TSW Alloy Wheels opening a new distribution facility.

This is not the only distinction Site Selection has bestowed upon Lehigh Valley in the past year. The magazine also recognized LVEDC as one of the top 20 economic development organizations in the nation for a second consecutive year through its Mac Conway Awards for Excellence in Economic Development.

Published by Conway Data, Site Selection is the oldest publication in the corporate real estate and economic development field. It is the official publication of the Industrial Asset Management Council, and has a circulation base of about 44,000 executives involved in corporate site selection decisions.

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Lehigh ValleyQuick Facts

By the Numbers
$41.2 Billion

2018 Gross Domestic Product

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City Center Lehigh Valley
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10.6% of Labor Force
Employed in Manufacturing

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Lehigh Valley Health Network
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$3.8 Billion

Exports in 2019

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Air Products
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Lehigh Valley Electricians
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$65,119

Median Household Income

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PPL Electric Utilities
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672,907

Population

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Olympus
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358,000

Labor Force

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26.1% of Labor Force
Employed in "Eds & Meds" sectors

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5,073

Technology Patents

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UGI
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Magestic Realty Co
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NFI
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14% of the total community college degrees awarded in PA

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Wells Fargo
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$7.3 Billion

Manufacturing Contribution to GDP

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BB&T
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69th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. by population

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Key Bank
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10,754 degrees awarded by Lehigh Valley colleges (2017-18 academic year)

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St. Lukes University Health Network
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85,000 employed in "Eds & Meds" sectors

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149,000

Population between ages 18 and 34

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