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LVEDC Hosts Site Selectors on Lehigh Valley Familiarization Tour

By Colin McEvoy on December 19, 2016

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation hosted representatives from a global site selection firm last week in a familiarization tour of the Lehigh Valley, one of several such tours LVEDC has organized this year for those at the forefront of business location decisions.

LVEDC led officials from Investment Consulting Associates (ICA), an international management advisory firm, on a two-day tour of the Lehigh Valley, which included visits to the region’s cities, educational institutions, and major employers like Martin Guitar, Ocean Spray, and Olympus.

This marks the third time since this summer that LVEDC has hosted such a tour, as part of the organization’s continuing effort to market the Lehigh Valley’s economic assets to site selectors, commercial real estate brokers, and others on forefront of corporate location decisions.

“Our goal with these tours is to give them a chance to see the Lehigh Valley again for the first time,” said Matthew Tuerk, Vice President of Economic Development and Marketing. “A lot of these folks have some familiarity with the region based on a historical perspective, but haven’t been here for as many as 10 years, and so much has changed in that time.”

Chris Steele

Chris Steele (courtesy photo)

The tour included Chris Steele, COO and President, North America of ICA, and Collin Perciballi, an economic development adviser with the firm. As part of the visit, Steele assessed a mock Request for Information (RFI) that LVEDC prepared, and gave feedback to the organization’s responsiveness and readiness in responding to such site selection requests.

ICA is based in Amsterdam and Boston and specializes in corporate location advisory, supply chain management, market entry, incentives advisory, free zone development, economic development strategies, investment promotion strategies, and foreign direct investment advisory.

The tour began with a visit to the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board (LVWDB) to discuss regional efforts related to workforce preparedness. Much of the feedback from the tour related to workforce capacity, appropriate training, and the importance of recruiting and retaining millennial employees.

“The LVEDC’s partnership with the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board is an exemplary model of strategic collaboration,” Steele wrote in a report following the tour. “ICA commends the partnership for its close communication and sharing of resources and information.”

The visit to the Olympus Corporation of the Americas headquarters in Upper Saucon Township highlighted the experiences of an international medical devices firm in the Lehigh Valley, with an emphasis on quality of place assets.

Life science research and manufacturing has been identified by LVEDC as one of the four optimal target sectors of the Lehigh Valley economy, along with high performance manufacturing, high value business services, and food and beverage processing.

Steele noted that the tour “significantly demonstrated the Lehigh Valley’s strength in talent and workforce” related to device manufacturing and research and development operations, with four of the region’s top ten employers (Olympus, Air Products, B Braun, and Lutron) falling within that industry, employing 7,540 people.

Ocean Spray was chosen for the tour to give ICA an opportunity to speak with a recent arrival in the Lehigh Valley concerning their experience in the attraction process, Tuerk said, whereas Martin Guitar provided the opportunity to tour the factory of a long-time manufacturer in the region.

The tour also featured stops to the downtown neighborhoods of Bethlehem, Easton, and Allentown, the latter of which included a visit with commercial real estate developer City Center Lehigh Valley, who discussed the economic renaissance of downtown Allentown. The tour ended with a visit to Lehigh University, which included a discussion of tech transfer and university resources available to companies.

In June, LVEDC organized a bus tour of the Lehigh Valley to more than 40 sites selectors as part of the I.CON ‘16 conference held by NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association. The next month, LVEDC hosted a visit to the Lehigh Valley by representatives from site selection firms Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Company and LFM Corporate Location Solutions.

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