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LVEDC announces new leadership team

By LVEDC Staff on August 16, 2013

BETHLEHEM (August 16, 2013) – The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation has announced the promotion of two experienced economic developers to vice president positions and the hiring of a Northampton County economic development staffer for the organization’s finance and loans division.

Matthew Tuerk, 38, of Allentown, has been promoted to Vice President of Administration and Investor Relations. Tuerk, a veteran of economic development in the Lehigh Valley, joined LVEDC in February as the organization’s first Director of Research and Innovation. He previously had been the Assistant Director, responsible for finance and operations, at the Allentown Economic Development Corp. He has a Master of Business Administration degree from Moore School of Business at University of South Carolina and was a controller and operations manager for private sector companies before joining AEDC in 2008.

Jarrett Witt, 34, of Bethlehem Township, has been promoted to Vice President of Economic Development. Witt is in his ninth year at LVEDC where he has served as director of business development, regional development manager and business development specialist. As the longest serving employee at LVEDC, Witt has worked on every major development project to come through the organization during the last decade. Prior to joining LVEDC, Witt worked for the Bureau of Planning and Zoning at the City of Allentown.

“Both Jarrett and Matt have earned these promotions,” said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC. “Both of them have considerable experience and expertise along with the talent and work ethic to help LVEDC advance economic marketing and promotion and job creation and economic growth in the Lehigh Valley.”

In addition, LVEDC has hired Jaime Whalen, 36, of Easton, most recently an economic development analyst in the Northampton County community and economic development department, to serve as LVEDC’s finance administrator, a position vacated by the retirement of Judy Yanega. Prior to joining Northampton County in May, Whalen served for more than 11 years as a legislative assistant to former State Rep. Richard Grucela, D-Northampton County.

At the county, Whalen worked closely with county financing authorities and on tax increment financing and other economic development assistance funding, along with assisting on grants administration and grant writing for the county. In her more than 11 years with Grucela, Whelan worked with communities to coordinate economic development and grant projects among many other duties, including oversight of the legislative budget for the district office. She will report to John Kingsley, vice president of finance.

“Northampton County is a key partner for LVEDC,” Kingsley said. “Jaime has been an impressive member of the county’s economic development team and we have worked together with her and Alicia Karner, the economic development administrator, to serve the financing needs of companies within the county. Jaime’s knowledge, experience and professionalism will strengthen our ability to provide financing and economic development assistance of all kinds to help companies to come here, grow here and stay here.”

Tuerk and Witt will report to Cunningham. Their promotions are part of a restructuring of positions and workforce that Cunningham began last December. In July, Cunningham announced the departure of two vice presidents and a director from the organization. At that time, he said the organization would look within itself and across the Lehigh Valley to fill positions.

“It is my goal and the goal of the LVEDC Board to restore the core mission of LVEDC to market the region for economic growth and to create a full service, one stop shop to help companies to come here, grow here and to stay here,” Cunningham said. “We need to be more innovative, strategic and proactive to keep pace with changes in the world economy and to ensure the Lehigh Valley remains successful. We can’t afford to just manage our in-box. We need to use our resources in a strategic way to help the Lehigh Valley develop the economy it deserves.”

The promotion of Witt and Tuerk still leaves three positions open at LVEDC, several of which are being redefined to better fit the strategic mission of LVEDC and the Lehigh Valley’s needs.

“We will continue to look for the best talent we can find from within our organization, other economic development entities and private sector companies in the Lehigh Valley to develop the best quality staff that is possible,” Cunningham said.

All of the changes are budget neutral, Cunningham said, and the end result will be no growth in staff size at the organization. LVEDC is a regional, public-private partnership. It has an annual operating budget of $2.1 million and has 14 full time employees and one part-time that work on development, marketing, financing and loans. The Envision Study, funded by a recent federal HUD grant, along with the regional Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative, focused on returning industrial lands and buildings to productive economic reuse, are both managed by and housed at LVEDC.

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