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Lehigh Valley Ranked Top Region for Economic Development in the Northeast

By Colin McEvoy on March 2, 2015

For the seventh consecutive year, the Lehigh Valley has ranked in the Top 10 metros with a population between 200,000 and 1 million.

For the seventh consecutive year, Site Selection has ranked the Lehigh Valley in the Top 10 metropolitan areas with a population between 200,000 and 1 million. Click image to enlarge.

The Lehigh Valley has been ranked the 2014 top-performing region for economic development in the Northeastern United States for metropolitan regions of similar size, according to Site Selection, one of the most widely-read national magazines that covers corporate real estate and economic development.

This marks the seventh consecutive year the Lehigh Valley has ranked in the Top 10 of best-performing metropolitan areas in Site Selection’s prestigious Governor’s Cup Awards. It is one of only two regions of similar size in the country to make the list seven years in a row, along with Dayton, Ohio.

Additionally, the Lehigh Valley is the only Pennsylvania region of any population size to make Site Selection’s Top 10 rankings. The region competes against other metros with populations ranging between 200,000 and 1 million people. But Site Selection also measures metros with populations over 1 million, as well as under 200,000, and no Pennsylvania regions made those Top 10 lists.

“The Lehigh Valley continues to be recognized throughout the nation as a leader in economic growth and development,” said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC). “Site Selection is one of the highest-read and most well respected publications in the country, with a readership of power brokers who make major economic development decisions. For them to recognize our region on such a consistent basis is a truly remarkable accomplishment.”

The Lehigh Valley’s Top 10 finish helped Pennsylvania rank eighth in the country for top-performing states for economic development. Pennsylvania was also the highest-ranking state in the Northeast for 2014. With no other regions from the state ranking in the Top 10, the Lehigh Valley’s strong performance gave Pennsylvania an undeniable boost.

The Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton metro falls under arguably the most competitive category of all of the Site Selection Governor’s Cup rankings. A total of 164 metropolitan areas have populations between 200,000 and 1 million, compared to only 52 with populations over 1 million, according to U.S. Census Bureau classifications.

Consistently ranking in the Top 10 is extremely uncommon for metropolitan areas of this population range. Not only is the Lehigh Valley one of only two to stay in the list for seven consecutive years, but the region that ranked #1 last year – the Omaha-Council Bluff, Nebraska-Iowa metro area – did not even make the Top 10 this year.

No other Pennsylvania made any of Site Selection's Top 10 rankings, including metros with a population above 1 million, or below 200,000 (pictured).

No other Pennsylvania made any of Site Selection’s Top 10 rankings, including metros with a population above 1 million, or below 200,000 (pictured). Click image to enlarge.

“The Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton metro appears in the Top Ten for a seventh consecutive year in our ranking of metros in the 200,000 to 1 million population range,” said Mark Arend, editor-in-chief of Site Selection. “No other Northeast metro in this tier can make this claim. This metro’s performance indicates that it is delivering in good measure the location attributes of interest to location selectors requiring a Northeast location.”

Cunningham added: “This recognition for a seventh consecutive year is a validation that a regional approach is the correct approach to economic development. It’s a real recognition of all of the Lehigh Valley entities and individuals who support this regionalism and play a role in making the Lehigh Valley a national success story year after year.”

The Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton metro ranked ninth in regions with populations between 200,000 and 1 million. A total of 25 new and expanded corporate facility projects were completed in the Lehigh Valley last year, according to Site Selection, tying it with Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa, and placing it only four projects behind Akron, Ohio, and Toledo, Ohio, which both tied for seventh place.

Lehigh Valley’s growing recognition as an economic leader across the nation was also reflected in LVEDC’s invitation to the Site Selectors Guild 2015 Annual Conference, which was held last month. This marked the first year LVEDC was invited to the prestigious and highly sought after conference, which invites representatives only a select few organization to deliberately limit attendance. Don Cunningham attended on LVEDC’s behalf.

To qualify for Site Selection’s Governor’s Cup Awards, new corporate facilities and expansions must have at least $1 million in new investment or re-investment, 20,000 or more square feet of new construction, or they must create at least 20 new jobs. The projects cannot be government, educational, hospital, retail or residential construction.

Published by Conway Data, Site Selection is the oldest publication in the corporate real estate and economic development field, and has been awarding its prestigious Governor’s Cup Awards annually since 1978 to states and metropolitan areas with the most capital projects and investments. The magazine’s circulation base consists of 48,000 executives involved in corporate site selection decisions.

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