Lehigh Valley Economy Featured in Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal Article
By Colin McEvoy on April 13, 2018
The story below about the Lehigh Valley economy was written by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) and was featured in the Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal on April 13, 2018. The online version of that story can be found here.
The regional economy of the Lehigh Valley is now larger than that of the entire state of Wyoming or Vermont, as well as 108 other countries in the world.
The Lehigh Valley’s gross domestic product (GDP) has reached an all-time high of $39.1 billion in 2017, compared to $38.5 billion in Wyoming and $31.5 billion in Vermont. That marks a more than 4 percent increase in the Lehigh Valley economy over the previous year, which itself had been a record-high number.
Comprised of Lehigh and Northampton counties – which includes the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton – the Lehigh Valley was also recently named by Site Selection magazine as one of the Top 5 regions in the Northeastern United States in terms of economic development for the second consecutive year.
Based on the magazine’s tracking of total projects by region, the Lehigh Valley ranked behind only the New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Boston metropolitan areas in the Northeast. The Lehigh Valley was the only region in the population range between 200,000 and 1 million to make the top five list.
“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 Don Cunningham, President and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC). “This past year has been a significant one for economic growth in the Lehigh Valley, and we continue to be the fastest-growing region in the state of Pennsylvania.”
The Lehigh Valley saw another year of strong economic growth in 2017, which speaks to the remarkable diversity among its various economic sectors, a sign of a well-balanced and multifaceted economy. Each individual subsector saw year-over-year GDP growth from 2016 to 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Finance, insurance and real estate is the top economic sector at $7.9 billion, followed closely by manufacturing ($6.9 billion), professional and business services ($5.3 billion), and education and health care ($5.3 billion). Transportation and warehousing makes up $1.9 billion of the regional economy, but is the fastest-growing sector, with a year-over-year growth rate of 9.5 percent.
“Gone are the days when the Lehigh Valley economy depended entirely on one industry, or on a single employer like Bethlehem Steel,” Cunningham said. “Our growth has been broad-based and balanced. All of our eggs are no longer in a single basket.”
LVEDC tracked 31 business attraction or expansion projects in the Lehigh Valley that were either announced, under construction, or completed in 2017, creating more than 2,200 jobs and retaining more than 1,300. The organization also provided access to $17.2 million in financing in 2017, resulting in another 810 jobs either created or retained.
The region’s economic success story has started to attract international attention. The Lehigh Valley was the subject of a 24-page dedicated supplement in the inflight magazine of American Airlines, the world’s largest airline, which serves nearly 200 million passengers a year.
Additionally, the region’s booming logistics and e-commerce sector was the focus of a front-page article in The New York Times, which notes that the Lehigh Valley “provides a gateway to the nation’s biggest metropolitan area” due to its proximity to highways and easy access to much of the Eastern Seaboard.
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