Lehigh Valley Ranked Third-Best Region in Northeast for Economic Development

By Colin McEvoy on July 21, 2020

Lehigh Valley was ranked the third-best region in the Northeast for 2019 in terms of economic development projects, and third-best metropolitan region of its population size in the nation.

Overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic is the fact that Lehigh Valley was ranked the third-best region in the Northeast for 2019 in terms of economic development projects completed, under construction or announced.

Despite competing with much larger metropolitan areas, Lehigh Valley outranked such regions as Boston and Pittsburgh, and had only one fewer project than Philadelphia, according to 2019 rankings by Site Selection magazine that were announced in March, just as pandemic-related business restrictions were taking effect.

Additionally, for a fourth consecutive year, Lehigh Valley was ranked among the Top 5 regions nationwide with a population size between 200,000 and 1 million, coming ahead of such areas as Omaha, Neb., and Des Moines, Iowa. Lehigh Valley has been the highest-ranking region of its size in the Northeast for three years in a row and was the only region in the Northeast listed among Site Selection’s top 10 of 2019 for places with a population of 200,000 to 1 million.

“Although these rankings reflect projects before the coronavirus outbreak, this distinction speaks to the fundamental strengths of the regional economy, which will ultimately help us weather this pandemic,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).

“Economic activity in most of our major sectors, such as manufacturing, has not been stopped by the coronavirus,” Cunningham said. “We continue to work on projects and expansions that had been in the pipeline before the COVID-19 crisis, as well as new projects.”

The cover of the Site Selection magazine issue featuring the Governor’s Cup awards.

Site Selection is one of the most widely read and well-respected economic development publications in the United States. Each year, the magazine announces the best-performing metropolitan areas in the country as part of its prestigious Governor’s Cup Awards.

LVEDC planned to announce these rankings during the organization’s Annual Meeting in March, but the event has been cancelled due to COVID-19 health concerns, and the announcement was delayed as the organization shifted its focus to assisting Lehigh Valley businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Site Selection identified 34 development projects in Lehigh Valley from 2019 for its rankings. The magazine does not disclose which projects it has identified, nor how the magazine reached that figure.

“Lehigh Valley’s 34 capital investment projects for the year made it third in our tally of all Northeast metros, ahead of Pittsburgh and other larger cities,” said Mark Arend, Editor in Chief of Site Selection. “This clearly demonstrates to our readers that the Lehigh Valley has the location attributes they require when siting new facilities.”

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. In its 2019 Annual Report, LVEDC identified 50 projects from that year, creating about 5,500 jobs and retaining nearly 3,700.

Some of the major 2019 projects identified by LVEDC include the new Air Products global headquarters, ADP’s downtown Allentown office space, Keurig Dr Pepper’s plant in Upper Macungie Township, and Tyber Medical’s manufacturing facility in Hanover Township, Northampton County.

Other significant economic development projects from 2019 included Allegiant Air, Continental Cup, Freshpet, IQ Fibers, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Lulus, Sharp Packaging Solutions, St. Luke’s University Health Network, Straight Arrow Products, and Stuffed Puffs.

This is not the only distinction Site Selection has bestowed upon Lehigh Valley this 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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