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LVEDC Creates New Work Group to Focus on Lehigh Valley Businesses

By Colin McEvoy on January 8, 2019

LVEDC Director of Talent Supply Karianne Gelinas addressing the Education and Talent Supply Council in September 2018.

LVEDC Director of Talent Supply Karianne Gelinas addressing the Education and Talent Supply Council in September 2018.

Karianne Gelinas, former Director of Talent Supply at the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, has been named to oversee a new strategic initiative work group at LVEDC focused on the increased need for talent and other issues facing companies in the Lehigh Valley.

Gelinas was promoted in December to the new position of Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Research. The position directs the five-person work group that is responsible for research and analysis, outreach to Lehigh Valley businesses and local governments, and directing initiatives to support retention and growth of companies in the region.

“While attraction of new companies to the region garners the headlines, the reality is that 70 percent of the job growth in the Lehigh Valley comes from companies already here,” said LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham. “It’s imperative that we understand the challenges our companies face and work with our partners to develop strategies to keep them here and growing.”

Karianne Gelinas

Karianne Gelinas

Gelinas was hired in May 2017 to direct LVEDC’s talent supply initiative that has assessed the region’s education and training supply and the employment needs of critical sectors of the economy.

The initiative led to the creation of a regional Talent Supply Council comprised of higher education, K-12 education, career and technical education and a cross-section of business and industry, staffing agencies and regional economic development and business groups. There are now five committees of the Council working to implement recommendations from a study and survey of companies in various sectors released last July.

“Karianne has done a fabulous job directing the talent supply initiative with our partners,” Cunningham said. “We are fortunate to have someone with her skill set to lead this new group.”

The talent supply effort won an Excellence Award from the Association of Talent Development in December.

“There is nothing more critical right now than talent supply and worker availability for companies in the Lehigh Valley and those looking to come here,” said Gelinas, who previously helped to direct a literacy and job training program at Lehigh Carbon Community College. “I look forward to continuing that work and expanding upon it with the new strategic initiatives and research group.”

The new group also has responsibility for running LVEDC’s Business Outreach Program, which is working in conjunction with Pennsylvania’s state-wide Engage! business calling program. In addition, the work group will house LVEDC’s community outreach, brownfield redevelopment, and research and analysis efforts. It also will lead the organization’s entrepreneurial and local sourcing and supplier diversity councils.

LVEDC’s talent supply and business outreach efforts last year received a two -year, $300,000 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania grant through the support of State Sen. Pat Browne. Part of the grant is supporting the creation of a new Assistant Director of Outreach position.

Frank Alvarado, a former LVEDC intern and a 2017 graduate of DeSales University, was hired this month to fill the position.

LVEDC has three work groups led by vice presidents. The other groups are Economic Development and Marketing led by Matthew Tuerk, and Administration and Investor Relations led by Jaime Whalen.

In the reorganization, Whalen also was named LVEDC’s chief of staff. Her Administration group now includes LVEDC’s finance and public lending operations, which previously was its own work group.  Whalen formerly worked in LVEDC’s finance group and previously managed public finance programs for Northampton County’s department of community and economic development.

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