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LVEDC Hosts Lehigh Valley Bus Tour for Site Selectors, Real Estate Brokers

By Colin McEvoy on June 14, 2016

LVEDC and participants in the bus tour visiting the Cigars International facility.

LVEDC and participants in the bus tour visiting the Cigars International facility.

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) had the unique opportunity last week to market the Lehigh Valley directly to more than 40 site selectors, commercial real estate brokers, and other business location decision-makers.

LVEDC organized a bus tour of the Lehigh Valley for a group of registrants from “I.CON ‘16: Trends and Forecasts,” a major conference for the industrial real estate sector hosted in Jersey City last week by NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

In addition to the bus tour, LVEDC was a gold sponsor for the conference and one of the few economic development corporations in the country to attend it, and the Lehigh Valley bus tour was the only pre-conference fam tour organized for attendees this year.

“This was a rare opportunity to market the economic assets of the Lehigh Valley to people directly involved in business location decisions, using an avenue that other regions simply are not utilizing,” said Don Cunningham, LVEDC President and CEO. “This tour shows that the Lehigh Valley is part of the development discussion among some of the biggest names in real estate in the United States and the world.”

Out of about 600 attendees at the I.CON ‘16 conference, only about two dozen were from economic development organizations from across the country, including several from LVEDC. This gave LVEDC a nearly exclusive opportunity to market the Lehigh Valley to an attentive audience of real estate developers, brokers, site selectors and business location consultants.

Matthew Tuerk, LVEDC Vice President of Economic Development and Marketing, speaking to the bus tour. (photo courtesy NAIOP)

Matthew Tuerk, LVEDC Vice President of Economic Development and Marketing, speaking to the bus tour. (photo courtesy NAIOP)

Participants in the bus tour come from 15 different states, including California, Oregon, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, Virginia, Arizona, and Texas, as well as the country of Brazil. For many, it was their first time visiting the Lehigh Valley.

“NAIOP enjoyed working with the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation on this tour,” said Christopher Ware, Vice President for Business Development with NAIOP. “It was a great addition to the I.CON conference and one that our attendees enjoyed.”

Companies that were represented include Prologis, Cushman & Wakefield, CBRE, the Port of Portland, Baker Commercial Real Estate, Marmara, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and many others.

The tour included visits to former Bethlehem Steel Corporation sites, Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII locations, the Lehigh Valley Rail Management Intermodal Terminal, and Majestic Realty Properties.

These locations were partially selected at the request of NAIOP, particularly because Majestic Realty Co. was named Developer of the Year for 2015 by NAIOP during their Commercial Real Estate Conference in Toronto in October.

Cunningham began the tour with an overview of the entire Lehigh Valley economy, highlighting its $35.4 billion GDP, its unusually diversified economic base, the trend in international companies investing in the region, and recent major economic success stories like zulily, Nihon Kohden, Safran, Curtiss-Wright, Primark, and others.

“The Lehigh Valley has a strong workforce and a diversified economic base with seven major sectors nearly equally matched in jobs and economic output,” Cunningham said. “It’s easy to do business in the Lehigh Valley and to receive the necessary approvals and cooperation from local councils and government officials.”

Other presentations were provided by Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez; Ed Konjoyan, Senior Vice President at Majestic Realty Co.; Kerry Wrobel, President of the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park; and John Callahan, Director of Business Development at Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader. The tour included properties by developers like Majestic, Duke Realty, J.G. Petrucci Co., Liberty Property Trust, and others.

The I.CON ‘16 conference included tours of the Port of New York and New Jersey and an industrial market overview by NAI Global President Jay Olshonsky. Ming Mei, CEO of GLP, also provided an insider’s look at the inner workings of GLP, the leading provider of modern logistics facilities in China, Japan, Brazil, and the United States.

Other remarks were given by Thomas Bisacquino, President and CEO of NAIOP; Geoffrey Kasselman, Executive Managing Director of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank; Ben Conwell, Senior Managing Director of Cushman & Wakefield; and others.

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