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LVEDC crafting new regional economic development plan

By LVEDC Staff on July 2, 2013

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. has hired Atlanta-based Garner Economics LLC to assist with the preparation and development of a thorough and all-inclusive regional economic development plan – one that will spur the region’s economic development for decades to come.

The goal is simple: Provide the people who live and work here with a steadily growing and sustainable economic future.

“The initiative will build upon LVEDC’s 2009 Strategic Plan,” said Holly Edinger, who serves as director of the Lehigh Valley Envision study. “Ideally I’d like to see the plan set the framework for the departments of community and economic development in Lehigh and Northampton counties.”

The process will put the Lehigh Valley and its economic viability under a microscope.

“There will be an emphasis on how the region’s assets can be used to attract industries that we want here and how our weaknesses hinder our ability to make that happen,” Edinger added.

In addition, the plan will serve as a benchmark to ensure that funding and policy development are aligned between governmental entities and non-profits to meet the region’s long-term goals.

“As business, communities and markets continue to adjust to the new ‘normal,’ economic development planning must be based on real-time credible data that take into account the entire economy and not just individual segments,” said Jay Garner, president and CEO of Garner Economics.

That’s not always smooth sailing. The LVEDC and Garner will approach the study in three phases:

–          A discovery period where the region is evaluated from a competitive site selection perspective that includes a labor and economic analysis along with an assets and challenges assessment (SWOT) and cluster analysis and business target identification.

–          A strategy phase that includes short- and long-term planning, business recruitment and marketing strategies, along with product improvement.

–          An implementation time where action is taken on marketing, promotion, workforce development recommendations, organizational recommendations for best practices, and a final presentation.

“Taken as a whole, these documents will form the basis for implementation of the Valley’s economic development goals for years to come,” said Garner.

The plan is expected to be completed within two years.

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