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LVEDC Announces Promotions, Position Changes

By George Lewis on December 1, 2020

Karianne Gelinas, Vice President of Business Development & Talent Supply; George Lewis, Vice President of Marketing, Communications & Research; and Jaime Whalen, Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff (respectively)

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation has announced several promotions and position consolidations as part of its 2021 budget recently adopted by the LVEDC Board of Directors.

Jaime Whalen has been promoted to Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff, the number two position in the organization, responsible for key functions including investor relations, business financing, budgeting, human resources, and administration.

Karianne Gelinas, most recently LVEDC’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, is now Vice President of Business Development & Talent Supply, a new position that consolidates her previous role with leading the region’s business recruitment, retention and expansion initiatives.

George Lewis, Vice President of Marketing, Communications & Research, will also oversee the region’s Made Possible in Lehigh Valley coordinated marketing activities, regional alliance and continued outreach and expansion efforts.

“Changing economic conditions have given LVEDC an opportunity to adjust and capitalize on new ways to expand regional partnerships and produce results for the Lehigh Valley,” said Don Cunningham, LVEDC President and CEO.

“We need to continue our economic development and marketing efforts for the Lehigh Valley with less resources, so we are consolidating operations and redefining roles for some staff members,” Cunningham said. “We have a very talented team that can make that happen.”

LVEDC’s recently adopted $2.6 million 2021 budget is a 10% reduction from its 2020 budget, primarily due to a decrease in regional hotel tax revenue. The hotel tax provides about half of LVEDC’s annual revenue.

Cunningham said the organization will not reduce activities in core areas such as business development, talent supply, regional marketing, and economic research, but will slightly trim staffing and contract expenses. LVEDC will reduce its vice president positions to three and total staff to 15 for 2021.

The vice president position formerly held by Matthew Tuerk, who announced his departure earlier this fall, is consolidated under Gelinas, and will not be filled.

LVEDC also will no longer fund in 2021 a consulting contract with Well-Grounded Marketing, owned and operated by Michael Keller, to coordinate the regional Made Possible in Lehigh Valley marketing alliance.

“LVEDC is just like so many other small businesses this year,” Cunningham said. “We need to do more with less. Fortunately, we’ve learned a lot during the pandemic and have adapted to work in a different, leaner way.”

The 2021 budget adopts new approaches to marketing, communications and business recruitment that incorporate remote work methods, such as more virtual events like the New Executive Interview video series. It also budgets improvements to the website and increased used of social media communications in support of key objectives including targeted business recruitment, proactive media relations, and talent supply, Cunningham said.

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