LVEDC Strategic Plan: “Talent Strategies Development” Initiative

By Colin McEvoy on February 1, 2022

This is the fourth of a series of six stories highlighting the 2021-2024 LVEDC Strategic Plan. Each article will highlight a different aspect of the report in detail. This story will be updated with links to the other articles as they are released. See also our overview story and stories about the initiatives “Telling Our Story,” “Targeted Recruitment,” and “Knowing Thyself and Seeing the Horizon.”

Both before the COVID-19 pandemic and in the present day, the top factor in attracting and retaining businesses remains the same: the access to talent with the right skills.

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) has long maintained that the region’s continued economic success depends on a workforce with the experience and skills that employers value. That’s why “Talent Strategies Development” is one of the five major initiatives of the organization’s new three-year strategic plan.

The cover of the 2021-2024 LVEDC Strategic Plan.

“There’s nothing more important to employers right now than availability of talent and the alignment of workers with the right skills for the jobs that are being created,” said LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham. “The Lehigh Valley has been ahead of the curve on this, and we’re going to continue to invest our efforts in this area.”

Through this strategic plan initiative, LVEDC will continue the partnership between the education, training, and workforce community and employers of all sectors and sizes to understand the region’s skills gaps and workforce needs and to help match supply and demand and develop strategies to fortify our talent pipeline.

That work has occurred through the leadership and direction of the LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council, a partnership of regional educational institutions, major employers, and economic development and workforce agencies focused on creating and executing data-driven regional strategies that help the Lehigh Valley maintain a competitive workforce.

“We hear from employers daily that attracting, hiring, and retaining talent with the right skills and experiences is key to their success,” said Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Vice President of Business Development and Talent Supply. “Determining the most pressing issues, leveraging the energy and expertise of our partners, and building feasible, implementable strategies was an accomplishment built on strengths of our coalition and benefiting our entire community.”

LVEDC’s talent supply initiative and the work of the Education and Talent Supply Council are possible thanks to grant funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania secured through the leadership of State Sen. Pat Browne.

The council has received several awards and recognitions since its formation in 2015. Most recently, it was named the nation’s best talent development and retention program by the International Economic Development Council, as well as the best economic development program in Pennsylvania by the Pennsylvania Economic Development Association.

LVEDC has several talent supply projects ongoing, including a regional talent market study by the firms Camoin310 and EMSI Burning Glass. A joint effort between LVEDC and the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley, this study assesses the regional talent market and recommends strategies that employers and educators can use to meet labor supply needs as we look to the future.

“You have something truly special,” Jim Damicis, senior vice president with Camoin310, told the council in October. “You have integration, collaboration, and sharing of data that is unique. The Lehigh Valley is well positioned in an unprecedented time in the labor market.”

The council last year organized the third annual Lehigh Valley Internship Summit, providing businesses information about how to establish and expand successful internship programs.

LVEDC also released a new internship toolkit, a 16-page Lehigh Valley Career Development & Internship Directory, and the Hot Careers Guide, which provides essential information about major Lehigh Valley job sectors such as advanced manufacturing, business services, and health care.

Gelinas leads the talent supply effort for LVEDC with the support of Talent Supply Manager Frank Alvarado and other members of the LVEDC team.

“Karianne’s leadership has been instrumental from the beginning of this initiative in helping us to sustain a word-class talent pipeline and establish the Lehigh Valley as a region that other communities look to as a leader in understanding talent supply,” Cunningham said.

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