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LVEDC Hosts Lehigh Valley Bus Tour for Commercial Real Estate Brokers

By Colin McEvoy on September 11, 2019

Juan Lopez, Vice President of East Coast Operation for Lulus, speaks during a a tour at the Lulus distribution center in Palmer Township.

For a third consecutive year, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) hosted a visit and bus tour of the Lehigh Valley for dozens of site selectors, commercial real estate brokers, and other business location decision-makers.

LVEDC organized a sold-out bus tour on Sept. 11 for about four dozen registrants from I.CON East, a major conference for the industrial real estate sector hosted in Jersey City this week by NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

This pre-conference bus tour associated with the NAIOP event presented LVEDC a rare opportunity to showcase the economic assets of the Lehigh Valley to people directly involved in business location decisions, according to LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham.

“We call ourselves, maybe not an inland empire, but a bit of an inland village,” Cunningham said during the tour. “Where you’re standing right now is about an eight-hour truck drive from 40% of all consumers in the United States.”

The tour began at the new Lulus distribution center in Palmer Township. The California-based manufacturer and online retailer of women’s clothing and accessories announced earlier this year its plans to establish a 250,000 square foot warehouse and distribution center in the Lehigh Valley.

Located in the Chrin-Carson Development off Route 248 near Route 33, the Lulus facility employs about 800 people, said Juan Lopez, Vice President of East Coast Operation for Lulus.

“About 70% of our order profile is from the Northeast, within 200 miles of this building,” Lopez said. “So it just made a lot of sense for us to be here in the Lehigh Valley.”

The tour also included a visit to the Amazon fulfillment center located in the Chrin Commerce Centre in Palmer Township. Located at 1610 Van Buren Road, the 1.1 million square foot facility established 500 new full-time jobs when it opened in 2016.

The Lehigh Valley has become an attractive region for the e-commerce market in recent years, in part due to the region’s well-developed transportation infrastructure and proximity to major Northeastern U.S. markets like New York City and Philadelphia.

There are 30,000 jobs in the Lehigh Valley’s transportation and logistics sector, a 9.5% increase compared to five years ago, with much of that job growth coming from e-commerce and new retail industry, Cunningham said.

In the last five years, the average hourly wage for material handlers and equipment operators in Lehigh Valley has increased by 10%, according to LVEDC Director of Research & Analysis George Lewis. The current average wage for a material handler is nearly $15 per hour, Lewis said, and the average for an equipment operator is close to $18 per hour.

LVEDC officials also distributed the latest issue of the LVEDC Commercial Real Estate Report to the tour participants. Distributed quarterly by LVEDC, the report provides information about the industrial, office, and flex markets of the Lehigh Valley, as well as recent notable commercial real estate sales and leases in the building.

Participants in the bus tour come from such companies as Beedie Development Group, CBRE, Clarion Partners, GD Properties Group, Heitman, Majestic Realty, MW Builders, Newmark Knight Frank, Oxford Properties Group, PNK Group, Primera Companies, and more.

In addition to the bus tour, several representatives of LVEDC also attended I.CON East, including Matthew Tuerk, Vice President of Economic Development and Marketing; Jarrett Witt, Director of Economic Development Projects; and George Lewis, Director of Research and Analysis.

I.CON is NAIOP’s premier event exclusively focused on the development, operation and expansion of industrial real estate. NAIOP comprises more than 19,000 members and provides advocacy, education, and business opportunities through its powerful North American network.

I.CON East is one of several events LVEDC officials will be attending this month to market the economic assets of the Lehigh Valley. Others include the Site Selectors Guild 2019 Fall Forum and the Industrial Asset Management Council (IAMC) 2019 Fall Forum.

“It’s important that these audiences know us and our market,” Tuerk said. “We want them to be as aware of the Lehigh Valley as they are of any market, so when they are considering a location for a future project, the Lehigh Valley is at the top of their mind.”

LVEDC Marketing the Lehigh Valley At Several Prestigious Events

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) will be spreading the word about the region this month to site selectors, corporate location consultants, manufa[...]

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