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Lehigh Valley Economy Highlighted by CNN, Wall Street Journal Stories

By Colin McEvoy on May 3, 2021

LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham (left) speaks to Jeff Zeleny, Chief National Affairs Correspondent with CNN, for a segment that appeared on the network on April 28. (screenshot photo courtesy CNN)

The Lehigh Valley was in the national spotlight yet again this month, having been the subject of stories from both CNN and The Wall Street Journal in the course of a single week.

Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), spoke to both media outlets for their stories, providing information about the regional economy, significant development projects, and the region’s top economic sectors.

Jeff Zeleny, Chief National Affairs Correspondent with CNN, prepared a nearly four-minute segment for the network and wrote a story for the CNN website, both of which ran on April 28 and can be found here.

The Wall Street Journal story, written by John McCormick, was published on April 29 and can be found here.

Both stories highlighted the first 100 days in the presidency of Joe Biden. They include interviews with Lehigh Valley residents and elected officials about their thoughts on Biden’s performance so far, and emphasize Northampton County’s role as a national bellwether and a swing county in a battleground state during the 2020 presidential election.

But both stories also highlight the strength and diversified nature of Lehigh Valley’s economy and the resiliency with which the region has weathered the COVID-19 crisis.

Cunningham discussed how the region’s manufacturing, food and beverage, online retail, and other industrial sectors have fared well during the pandemic, even as the Lehigh Valley’s service economy of restaurants, hotels, arts centers, and hospitality has suffered.

“It’s a tale of two different economies right now,” Cunningham said to The Wall Street Journal. “The market-based minimum wage is $15 or more for industrial jobs. You can’t hire anyone if you aren’t paying that.”

These stories are only the latest examples of national media coverage the Lehigh Valley economy has attracted in recent months.

The New York Times ran a January 2020 story about the region’s growing GDP manufacturing sector, food and beverage companies, and other economic topics. The Times highlighted the region again a year as part of its “Favorite Facts for 2020.”

The region was also featured in a segment on PBS NewsHour, and was the subject of stories in such outlets as the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, USA Today, NBC News, CBS News Sunday Morning, and others.

Zeleny was the Senior Washington Correspondent for ABC News before becoming Chief National Affairs Correspondent with CNN. He previously won a Pulitzer Prize for his work as a print journalist with The Chicago Tribune.

The Wall Street Journal’s McCormick is a national political reporter who has covered every presidential campaign since 2000. He traveled to about 40 states with Barack Obama in the 2008 election cycle and four years later he visited dozens with Mitt Romney.

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Lehigh ValleyQuick Facts

By the Numbers
$43.3 Billion

2020 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
By the Numbers
$3.8 Billion

Exports in 2019

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Air Products
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Lehigh Valley Electricians
By the Numbers
$66,865

Median Household Income

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PPL Electric Utilities
By the Numbers
676,700

Population

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Olympus
By the Numbers
347,612

Labor Force

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26.6% of Labor Force
Employed in "Eds & Meds" sectors

By the Numbers
5,073

Technology Patents

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Mack Trucks
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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
By the Numbers
$7.1 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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82,270 employed in "Eds & Meds" sectors

By the Numbers
149,000

Population between ages 18 and 34

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