LVEDC Looks Back on Economic Development Success Stories of 2018
By Colin McEvoy on December 21, 2018
As the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) looks ahead to the new year, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on the many economic development success stories the region experienced throughout 2018.
For a detailed account of the Lehigh Valley’s economic accomplishments in the first half of the year, click here to see LVEDC’s mid-year review.
It includes the Lehigh Valley being ranked the top region of its size in the Northeast for economic development, LVEDC hosting tours of the Lehigh Valley for dozens of site selectors, the introduction of Qualified Opportunities Zones, and Lehigh and Northampton counties being two of only 18 counties in Pennsylvania with an increase in population since 2010.
This year saw LVEDC release the final report from a year-long Lehigh Valley study to assess the regional talent market and identify wide-ranging strategies to grow, recruit, develop, and retain talent in the Lehigh Valley. The organization’s Education and Talent Supply Council is now focusing on the report’s recommendations.
Additionally, in September 2018, the Lehigh Valley’s gross domestic product reached a record-high $40.1 billion, with manufacturing driving much of the economic growth. An LVEDC analysis also found that the regional economy is far more balanced and diversified than the national GDP.
The Lehigh Valley saw several major economic development projects announced or completed in 2018. Air Products announced a new global headquarters, Air Liquide created 270 new jobs with an expansion, and FreshPet announced a renovation and expansion project.
Additionally, ADP opened a new office in Allentown’s Five City Center, and FedEx Ground opened its Lehigh Valley distribution hub, the Evonik Corporation expanded its technology and business capacities in the region, and B. Braun announced plans to add 250 jobs with an expansion.
Other companies that celebrated new projects or expansions in the Lehigh Valley this year include AblePay Health, Access Networks, Campbell and Strasser, City Center Lehigh Valley, NAURA Akrion Inc., Norac, PAC Worldwide, Silbrico Corporation, and Silgan Containers.
LVEDC has been proactively engaging regional businesses to identify their challenges and meet their needs through the Engage! program, a statewide business retention and expansion initiative. The organization has also been engaging in visits with each of the 62 municipalities to identify their individualized economic development priorities.
Through its 2018 Commercial and Industrial Real Estate Reports this year, LVEDC identified that less than five percent of the region’s industrial buildings exceed 300,000 square feet. Additionally, contrary to popular misconceptions, not all buildings in industrial parks are simply warehouses, but are also manufacturing facilities and offices, the reports find.
The organization received nationwide recognitions this year for its economic development efforts. The organization’s 2017 Annual Report received an IEDC Excellence in Economic Development award, and the LVEDC education and talent supply initiative won an Excellence Award from the Association for Talent Development.
LVEDC hosted several major events this year, including its fourth annual Fall Signature Event highlighting Freshpet, and a forum for the candidates of Pennsylvania’s 7th District. LVEDC will hold its 2019 Annual Meeting on Tuesday, March 19. Attendance is free, but pre-registration is required.
LVEDC this year also visited with trade representatives from around the world, helped establish new engineering apprenticeship programs, attended events with leading industrial real estate professionals, advertised the region’s economic assets in the Wall Street Journal, and highlighted its redevelopment program at the Pennsylvania Brownfields Conference.
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