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LVEDC Talent Supply Initiative Named State’s Best Economic Development Program

By Colin McEvoy on October 12, 2021

LVEDC Vice President, Marketing, Communications and Research George Lewis (center) accepting the PEDA award on LVEDC’s behalf. He is joined by Jim Becker, Immediate Past PEDA Board President (left), and Mike Grigalonis, PEDA Board President (right). (photo courtesy PEDA)

For the second time in a week, a leading professional organization serving economic developers has bestowed an award to the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), recognizing the organization’s education and talent supply initiative.

The Pennsylvania Economic Development Association (PEDA) presented its 2020 Economic Development Program of the Year award to LVEDC for its talent supply initiative, which received a similar award earlier in the week from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

“This unique partnership between employers, school administrators, colleges, universities and economic and workforce agencies, has allowed for the development of cross-sector coalitions that address challenges associated with the development, retention and attraction of talent and allow the region to have a workforce that is career-ready,” PEDA stated.

IEDC had previously presented LVEDC an Excellence in Economic Development Gold Award for best Talent Development and Retention initiative in recognition of the talent supply program, as well as a separate award for LVEDC’s 2020 Annual Report, marking the fourth consecutive year that the report has been awarded in this category.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by our peers as being one of the best in the country but, even more importantly, it’s important that we serve the economic needs of our employers in the Lehigh Valley with the best possible effort to link people to skills development and employers to qualified workers,” said LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham.

PEDA is the statewide association of economic development professionals that promotes sound policies that foster economic growth across the Commonwealth. PEDA’s award recognizes LVEDC’s talent supply initiative as the best economic development program in Pennsylvania.

The PEDA award was presented at the organization’s 2021 Fall Conference in Valley Forge on Oct. 7. The awards recognize strategies and programs with demonstrated results of effectiveness, strategic thinking, consensus building, and community benefit.

“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.”

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.

LVEDC’s talent supply initiative and the work of the LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council is possible due to state grant funding secured through the leadership of Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Browne, Cunningham said.

These are among several awards and recognitions the LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council has received since its formation in 2015. The council is a coalition including LVEDC, the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley, Lehigh Valley employers, and the region’s colleges and universities, all working together to maintain a competitive workforce and talent supply for the Lehigh Valley.

“What we as economic development professionals do every day has incredible value to our communities,” said past PEDA Board President Jim Becker. “Through these awards, PEDA recognizes people and groups that are doing a little bit extra for their communities.”

PEDA considered several elements of LVEDC’s talent supply initiative in its consideration for the award, including its  Hot Careers Guide, which provides essential information about major Lehigh Valley job sectors such as advanced manufacturing, business services, and health care. Additional information can be found at lehighvalley.org/hotcareers.

It also recognized the popular Lehigh Valley Internship Summit, which LVEDC has hosted annually for the past three years, providing businesses information about how to establish and expand successful internship programs. LVEDC also provides a 16-page internship toolkit and Internship Directory of regional colleges, universities, and career and technical schools for Lehigh Valley employers.

The PEDA award also recognized LVEDC’s efforts in soft skills training, talent research, and the Made Possible in Lehigh Valley marketing initiative.

PEDA noted that LVEDC’s talent supply initiative has resulted in several measurable successes, including “the strengthening of relationships between employers and educators and an elevated awareness of career pathways, just to name a few.”

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