LVEDC Hosts Visit of Site Selectors to Lehigh Valley
By Colin McEvoy on July 26, 2016
The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) hosted a visit this month by representatives from two of the most prestigious site selection firms in the country, continuing the organization’s efforts to market the Lehigh Valley’s economic assets to those at the forefront of corporate location strategy and business location decisions.
LVEDC welcomed Andy Shapiro, managing director with Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Company and head of that firm’s location advisory practice; and Lawrence Moretti, principal with LFM Corporate Location Solutions and a member of the Site Selectors Guild, an association of the world’s foremost professional site selection consultants.
This visit came just one month after LVEDC organized a bus tour for a group of site selectors, commercial real estate brokers, and real estate investors through the I.CON ’16 conference held by NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association. The Lehigh Valley was the only region in the country that had the opportunity to do this.
“It’s important we not only market the economic assets of the Lehigh Valley, but that we market them to the right people,” said Don Cunningham, LVEDC President and CEO. “Showcasing our region to the people most directly involved in business location decisions could be the deciding factor in separating Lehigh Valley from other regions on their shortlists.”
Moretti discussed ways to strengthen the Lehigh Valley’s visibility, and said he believes the region’s many economic assets make it particularly attractive for business headquarters relocations out of New York and New Jersey.
“When it comes to economic development and site selection in particular, one of the most important things is having comfort in the team you’re going to be working with, and I think LVEDC has a very good and well-orchestrated team,” Moretti said.
During the July 14 visit, Cunningham provided an overview of the Lehigh Valley economy, highlighting its $35.4 billion GDP, its unusually diversified economic base, the trend in international companies investing in the region. He also discussed recent major economic success stories like Norac, zulily, Nihon Kohden, Safran, Curtiss-Wright, Primark, and others.
Shapiro, Moretti, and LVEDC officials also visited the offices of City Center Lehigh Valley, which provided an overview of the developer’s various projects in downtown Allentown, and facilitated a discussion about how the Lehigh Valley can continue to be competitive as an office market through the alignment of marketing efforts to office users.
Cunningham pointed out that, while the office market has been robust for the Lehigh Valley, the region’s manufacturing sector has also experienced strong growth. Manufacturing makes up $4.95 billion of the Lehigh Valley’s GDP, and the region’s manufacturing sector grew by 4.1 percent from 2013 to 2014, outpacing the rest of Pennsylvania and much of the country in that area.
The discussion with Shapiro and Moretti led to several insights about the Lehigh Valley and how to market the regional economy.
They pointed out that, looking at a 100-mile radius around New York City, the Lehigh Valley ranks well in terms of cost-benefit. They also said the Lehigh Valley has major competitive advantages over New England regions when it comes to attracting Western European firms, particularly due to the region’s central location and access to infrastructure.
Also this month, LVEDC representatives met with Altios Location Advisors, a firm of internationally-focused location advisors. In recent years, the Lehigh Valley has experienced significant growth in foreign direct investment, which accounted for 42 percent of the region’s major business attraction and expansion projects last year.
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