LVEDC Speaks at DeSales University International Business Students
By Colin McEvoy on August 28, 2019
The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) visited DeSales University this week to speak to the next generation of international business students about the Lehigh Valley economy, international investment in the region, and the role LVEDC plays in attracting foreign direct investment here.
“The world’s not going away,” said Matthew Tuerk, LVEDC Vice President of Economic Development and Marketing. “The world wants to be here, and we have to figure out how to be the most accommodating to the world in terms of economic development.”
Tuerk at LVEDC, was invited to speak before Dr. Elizabeth Felten’s international business class at the in Upper Saucon Township campus on Aug. 28.
“Anytime the students have the opportunity to learn real-world experience is a great benefit to them,” Felten said. “It’s one thing to read about it in textbooks, but to see it happening here in the Lehigh Valley, rather than just an abstract concept in a textbook, is an excellent lesson for them.”
Tuerk spoke about what LVEDC does and its role in helping foster investment from international companies in the region. The mission of LVEDC is to market the economic assets of the Lehigh Valley and to create partnerships to lead the recruitment, growth and retention of employers.
“One of the biggest parts of what we do is talking to companies and talk to the people who influence investment decisions,” Tuerk said.
As an example, he cited LVEDC’s recent tour of Lehigh Valley for business investment representatives from 11 different countries around the world, the third such tour the organization has hosted in the last four years.
Through their role with the Pennsylvania Office of International Business Development (OIBD), these international representatives are stationed all around the world, speaking regularly with companies countries as France, Germany, China, India, and Japan, and encouraging them to establish U.S. operations in the state of Pennsylvania.
LVEDC engages regularly this international network, educating them about the regional economy and economic assets here so they can advocate on behalf of the Lehigh Valley to international companies when they return to their offices overseas.
Tuerk cited examples of international companies that have opened its first U.S. facilities in the Lehigh Valley in recent years, in part thanks to engagement efforts like those of LVEDC.
These include Norac, a French baked goods company, which open a facility in Forks Township last year; and Fuling Plastics, China’s largest manufacturer of plastic tableware and kitchenware, which opened its first American manufacturing facility in Upper Macungie Township in 2015.
Tuerk provided an overview of Lehigh Valley’s regional economy, citing its record-high $40.1 billion gross domestic product, as well as its unusually balanced and diversified makeup, with the region’s top four sectors very close together in terms of economic output.
“This balance is unusual,” Tuerk said. “A lot of other metropolitan areas have an enormous share in just one sector, and it has not worked out well for them. It works to our benefit because if there’s a recession or if one sector struggles, the others help keep the regional economy healthy.”
Tuerk also spoke about Lehigh Valley’s population growth, particularly in the 18 to 34 age demographic, and how this presents an important incentive to companies seeking a robust and talented workforce when they consider establishing a presence in a location.
Lehigh Valley is one of the few regions in the state to see population growth over the last eight years, and the region has seen a larger portion of growth in the 18-to-34 demographic than other areas of Pennsylvania. The state’s percentage of population in that age group is 22.4%, compared to 31.1% in Bethlehem, 30.5% in Easton, and 28.2% in Allentown.
“We’ve seen growth in this area where other places have not,” Tuerk said. “This is a major factor when we do any kind of business attraction, domestic or foreign. Companies want to know there are people in the area where they are investing.”
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