LVEDC Discusses Economic Development with Lehigh, Northampton County Officials

By Colin McEvoy on August 14, 2020

LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham presenting before a committee of Northampton County Council. (image courtesy Northampton County)

The counties of Lehigh and Northampton are the two largest investors in the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), and two of the most important regional partners in the organization’s efforts to advance economic development and create jobs in the region.

This month, LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham made presentations to officials from both counties to discuss recent major projects, the services LVEDC provides to the counties, and continued economic development in the region during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Development activity has continued at a strong pace in Lehigh Valley even in these uncertain times because companies and site selectors know the fundamentals of the regional economy have not changed,” Cunningham said. “On the contrary, they are more important than ever.”

Cunningham appeared before a committee of Northampton County Council on Aug. 6, and a Lehigh County Board of Commissioners committee on Aug. 12.

Among the topics discussed were services LVEDC provides the county, including administrative services for public financing programs like the Lehigh County Industrial Development Authority (LCIDA), Northampton County Industrial Development Authority (NCIDA), and Lehigh Valley Economic Investment Corporation (LVEIC).

Those organizations administer public financing options such as tax-exempt financing, tax increment financing (TIF), the Job Creation Grant Program, and the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). LVEDC also manages incentive programs such as Keystone Innovation Zones (KIZ) and Keystone Opportunity Zones (KOZ).

He also discussed LVEDC’s redevelopment program, the Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative (LVLRI), which administers Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding for projects such as the Easton Iron & Metal site, and the Waterfront project in Allentown.

Additionally, during the COVID-19 crisis, LVEDC has been providing regional companies and stakeholders with information about emergency financing programs, in part through the organization’s dedicated COVID-19 resources page and financing page.

The organization has also submitted 26 loan applications totaling $2.3 million in financing for companies in Lehigh and Northampton counties through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority’s COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program.

Cunningham also discussed initiatives like the LVEDC Education & Talent Supply Council and Made Possible in Lehigh Valley, as well as major economic development projects in both counties over the past year, as well as new ones currently in the pipeline.

LVEDC tracked 27 projects in Northampton County in 2019, as well as 23 in Lehigh County that year. Some major Northampton projects included Continental Cup, Freshpet, Norac, Stuffed Puffs, and Tyber Medical, while some Lehigh projects included ADP, Air Products, B Braun, Keurig Dr Pepper, and Sharp Packaging Solutions.

Since 2017, Lehigh Valley has seen 96 development projects, including 44 in manufacturing, 28 in distribution and logistics, and 24 in office. Cunningham said. These projects total $2.1 billion in investment, creating 12,200 jobs.

Currently, LVEDC is tracking 29 active projects in Lehigh Valley, with 24 more that are under construction or have made their plans public. These projects are expected to create at least 1,393 jobs, Cunningham said, though the final total will likely be higher because some projects have not yet reported projected job counts.

In the pipeline, LVEDC is tracking 24 prospects, including 13 active projects since mid-March when the pandemic reached Lehigh Valley. They are expected to create 2,528 jobs in the region, for a total investment of $1.26 billion.

“I think the Lehigh Valley will come out of this pandemic and quarantine as strong or stronger than most regions because of the balance of economy here,” Cunningham said.

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