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LVEDC Hosts Gathering of Lehigh Valley Legislative Delegations

By Colin McEvoy on September 20, 2016

Don Cunningham speaking to a group of Lehigh Valley legislators and staff members at The Hamilton Kitchen & Bar in Allentown.

Don Cunningham speaking to a group of Lehigh Valley legislators and staff members at The Hamilton Kitchen & Bar in Allentown.

For the second time this year, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) hosted a gathering of the region’s legislative delegations to provide an overview of the regional economy and discuss important economic development issues in the Lehigh Valley.

About two dozen local legislators and staff members attended the luncheon, which was held Sept. 15 at The Hamilton Kitchen & Bar in Allentown, which touched upon everything from major business projects to employment trends in the Lehigh Valley.

“LVEDC has always had excellent communication and cooperation with the Lehigh Valley’s legislative delegations, and we are committed to continuing those strong relationships and keeping our elected representatives informed about the region and the key initiatives of our organization,” said Don Cunningham, LVEDC President and CEO.

State Sens. Pat Browne and Mario Scavello were among those in attendance, as well as state Reps. Ryan Mackenzie, Bob Freeman, Dan McNeill, and Marcia Hahn.

The goal these meetings – which have now been expanded to be held twice yearly – was to build on the strong working relationships LVEDC maintains with the legislative delegations, to inform them of key initiatives the organization is working on, and to continue to be a resource for them if any constituents have economic development issues.

“I thank LVEDC for keeping legislators informed of their work to promote economic growth in our region,” said Mackenzie, who will also be hosting LVEDC’s Conversation and Cocktails event on Oct. 12. “LVEDC is at the forefront of developing strategies to support employers as they seek to grow and expand in the Lehigh Valley.”

Other attendees included Marta Gabriel and Connor Corpora (both from the office of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey), Carol Halper (U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent), April Niver (U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright), Nancy Wilt (state Rep. Peter Schweyer), Michael Dee (McNeill), Ellen Kern (Browne), Taylor Munoz (Scavello)

Cunningham discussed the industrial boom Lehigh Valley has been experiencing. Since 2015, about 10 million square feet of industrial space has been added in Lehigh and Northampton counties, and another 5 million square feet are under construction today.

“Job creation has exploded in the logistics, e-commerce and transportation sectors,” Cunningham said. “Total employment will soon exceed 30,000 jobs in that area. Five years ago, it was below 20,000.”

Cunningham noted LVEDC currently has 30 opportunities active in the economic development pipeline, distributed among various stages of the sales process, with 4,700 new jobs possible. Most of those active projects – or 30 percent – fall under the manufacturing industry.

Cunningham discussed recently-announced business attraction or retention projects in the Lehigh Valley.

They included Paychex, Inc., which is creating 100 new jobs by expanding its South Whitehall Township facility; Sharp Packaging Solutions, which is undertaking a $45 million expansion that will create up to 50 new jobs; and Norac USA, which is establishing 62 new jobs with its new Forks Township facility.

Cunningham also discussed this week’s announcement that DevTech PET, Inc., which manufactures plastic bottles and containers for the food and beverage industry, is leasing a 120,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Hanover Township, Northampton County, creating 32 new full-time, high-wage jobs over the next three years.

“This is a great win for the region, and one that LVEDC was heavily involved with from early in the process,” Cunningham said. “DevTech is a perfect fit for the Lehigh Valley’s economy, where the food and beverage sector has grown rapidly during the last decade.”

He also reviewed LVEDC’s recent marketing initiatives, including a new video series marketing specific industry sectors, international marketing brochures translated into eight different languages, and the use of intelligent Internet ad placement on Google to attract prospects to the LVEDC website.

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