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LVEDC Participates in Expert Panel Discussion at IEDC Conference

By Colin McEvoy on November 17, 2021

LVEDC Director of Market Research and Communications Nicole Radzievich Mertz (second from left) speaks during a panel discussion at the 2021 IEDC Annual Conference. (photo courtesy IEDC)

In addition to winning two awards at this year’s International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Annual Conference, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) was invited to speak about best practices related to talent attraction and retention efforts.

Nicole Radzievich Mertz, LVEDC Director of Market Research and Communications, participated in a panel discussion during the conference on Oct. 5, during which she discussed LVEDC’s newly-released Hot Careers Guide and its annual Lehigh Valley Internship Summit, among other topics.

These efforts are part of LVEDC’s overall talent supply initiative, which received an Excellence in Economic Development award from IEDC this year, recognizing it as the best talent development and retention initiative in the country.

Nicole Radzievich Mertz, LVEDC Director of Market Research and Communications

“The programs offered by LVEDC were made possible because of a community coalition and a commitment to making talent a priority in the Lehigh Valley,” Radzievich Mertz said. “Our region is committed to providing a robust talent pipeline through an active partnership of schools, employers and other community partners.”

During the panel discussion, entitled “Show and Tell with IEDC Award Winners,” Radzievich Mertz discussed the Lehigh Valley Hot Careers Guide, which was developed by LVEDC in collaboration with education and business partners from throughout the region. The full guide can be downloaded here.

The 12-page guide covers essential information from major job sectors in the regional economy, providing a clear visual representation of career opportunities and a basis for meaningful career exploration based on individual interests.

Radzievich Mertz discussed how the guide takes a data-driven approach to identifying growing careers in the Lehigh Valley’s biggest industries, and the methods by which LVEDC communicated that data to students in 17 school districts through the easy-to-use guide.

Additionally, Radzievich Mertz highlighted the Lehigh Valley Internship Summit, an annual event hosted by LVEDC that provides businesses information about how to establish and expand successful internship programs in order to connect them with future talent.

“The Internship Summit aims to connect employers with the talent, bringing educators and employers together to develop programs that students would find value in while learning about the career opportunities in their school’s backyard,” she said.

Radzievich Mertz discussed how these programs can be replicated by other regions, as well as how LVEDC adapted when presenting these programs during the COVID-19 crisis. The Internship Summit was held virtually this year, and the Hot Careers Guide was released digitally.

Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Vice President of Business Development and Talent Supply, leads the talent supply effort for LVEDC with the support of Talent Supply Manager Frank Alvarado and other members of the LVEDC team.

The IEDC Annual Conference was held in Nashville, Tenn. this year. In addition to Radzievich Mertz, the panel also included other IEDC award winners from such regions as Beaufort County, S.C,; Brownsville, Texas; and Giddings, Texas.

In addition to the award for its talent supply initiative, LVEDC also received an IEDC Excellence in Economic Development award for the organization’s 2020 Annual Report, marking the fourth consecutive year that LVEDC’s Annual Report has been awarded in this category.

LVEDC competed in the largest population range for the IEDC awards (500,000 or greater), meaning the organization was selected ahead of much larger regions with far more resources available to them. IEDC presents awards in 25 different categories.

Other panel speakers included Tonya Britton, Executive Director of the Giddings Economic Development Corporation; Nathan Burkhart, Director of Marketing & Small Business Development at the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation; John A. O’Toole, Executive Director of the Beaufort County Economic Development Corporation.

The panel discussion was moderated by William Myers, Vice President of the Denison Development Alliance.

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