Lehigh Valley Attracting Notice as One of America’s Great Midsize Metros
By Colin McEvoy on February 20, 2020
This article, written by LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham, was originally published in the Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal’s 17th Annual Economic Development Spotlight on Jan. 31.
This past year has been one for the record books for the Lehigh Valley economy, and as we head into a new decade, the region is poised to become recognized as one of America’s great midsize metropolitan areas.
The eastern Pennsylvania region of 670,000 people encompasses Lehigh and Northampton counties and is the third largest metropolitan area in Pennsylvania. Located 80 miles from New York City and 60 miles from Philadelphia, it’s the state’s third largest metropolitan area.
The past 12 months have seen continued growth for the Lehigh Valley economy. The region’s GDP reached a record-high $41.2 billion, and the region saw significant year-over-year job growth, adding 4,000 jobs during the 12-month period ending June 30, 2019.
Manufacturing is the Lehigh Valley’s second-largest sector in terms of economic output, making up $7.3 billion (or nearly 18%) of the regional economy. While manufacturing jobs have been declining in many areas of the country, Lehigh Valley has added nearly 5,000 in the last five years.
Lehigh Valley has become one of the best markets in the country for homebuyers, and ranked among the top 10 markets for homebuyers between the ages of 18 and 35, according to realtor.com.
Lehigh Valley has seen steady growth in the important millennial demographic. In 2018, the region’s 18-34 population grew to nearly 149,000, and has grown by 5% in the last five years. The 18-to-34 age group is the nation’s largest portion of the labor force and is critical to regional economic growth.
These are just a few of the factors that have helped the Lehigh Valley’s economic success story gain national attention over the past 12 months.
Site Selection recognized us as one of the five fastest-growing regions with under a million people in the United States, and the single fastest-growing region of its size in the Northeast U.S. for a third consecutive year.
Additionally, LVEDC was named one of the Top 20 economic development corporations in the United States, Forbes magazine highlighted the region’s manufacturing sector, and Lehigh Valley was the subject of a dedicated 26-page section in the Delta Air Lines in-flight magazine in December.
2019 also marked the launch of Made Possible in Lehigh Valley, an exciting new marketing initiative that’s increasing outside awareness of the region, developing a positive image of Lehigh Valley, and marketing it as an attractive place to drive talent acquisition and retention.
Testimonials and success stories from the companies and people here have been highlighted on the Made Possible in Lehigh Valley website and Instagram account, and this campaign will be a major area of focus in the new year. For more information, visit lehighvalleymadepossible.com.
Lehigh Valley’s unique and authentic nature, growing economy and affordability, and emerging cultural attractions, restaurants, and livable downtown spaces will continue to attract young people to move here, companies to come here, and entrepreneurs to invest here. Soon, people from markets like Pittsburgh; Jersey City and Arlington, Va., will be traveling to Lehigh Valley to see what all the fuss is about.
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