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LVEDC Tracking Dozens of Lehigh Valley Projects, Prospects

By Colin McEvoy on July 26, 2021

The Lehigh Valley has been recognized for years as one of the top regions in the nation in terms of economic development projects, and that momentum has carried over into the year 2021, with much of the interest and growth coming from manufacturing companies.

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) is currently tracking 34 projects that have committed to calling Lehigh Valley their home; these projects are at a confidential stage, have been announced, or are under construction in the region.  Additionally, the organization is communicating with 32 prospects that are considering the Lehigh Valley for relocation or expansion.

Karianne Gelinas

Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Vice President of Business Development and Talent Supply

This was included in a report that Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Vice President of Business Development and Talent Supply, made to the LVEDC Board of Directors last week about economic development projects and trends in the Lehigh Valley.

“Lehigh Valley continues to be a hot market for development, specifically industrial development, due in part to shifts in consumer habits stemming from the global pandemic,” Gelinas said.

LVEDC defines a prospect is a company that is considering the Lehigh Valley, and with which LVEDC has been involved in active communications for at least the past six months, whereas a project is a company that has made and/or announced a decision to come here or expand here.

The majority of both the current projects and future prospects being tracked are from manufacturing companies, Gelinas said. Eighteen of the 34 projects are manufacturers, as are 21 of the 32 of the prospects, or nearly two-thirds of the total.

The other 11 prospect companies are classified as office, distribution, and/or retail, Gelinas said. Among the projects that have either been announced or are under construction in the region, seven are office & administrative, seven are distribution and retail, and two are real estate renovation.

In particular, the Lehigh Valley has seen continued and increased interest from life science companies and the food and beverage sector. The region’s life science sector has seen substantial growth in recent years, with companies like B. Braun, Follett, OraSure Technologies, and U.S. Specialty Formulations expanding here, among others.

“There has been a rise in expansions and relocations for life science companies across the country, and that national trend is certainly being mirrored here in our region as well,” Gelinas said. “Life sciences is a growing industry for the Lehigh Valley.”

Gelinas cited Yourway as an example of a life science company among the 34 current projects LVEDC is tracking. The Upper Macungie Township-based biopharmaceutical company is expanding its headquarters to 300,000 feet, doubling its packaging, storage, and distribution facilities in the Lehigh Valley.

“The (Lehigh Valley) site is Yourway’s global headquarters and is strategically located for client accessibility close to three major international airports and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” the company previously stated. “This is another contributor to the ability to transport clinical materials around the world in hours, not days, and for trials to start quickly.”

Location and talent remain primary drivers for companies seeking to expand or relocate, Gelinas told the board. LVEDC works regularly with site selectors and corporate location consultants, and they regularly highlight the need for a skilled and robust workforce.

This is among the reasons LVEDC and the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley have hired the firm Camoin 310 to conduct an in-depth analysis of the region’s talent supply challenges and other insights that will ultimately lead to a revised talent supply strategic action plan.

Gelinas also noted an increased interest in foreign direct investment. LVEDC recently landed a spot in a competitive economic research program by SelectUSA because of its “rich history” in investment by companies from other countries.

“Lehigh Valley has a rich history of Foreign Direct Investment and working with international companies, and it has a solid plan going forward,” said Samantha Luban, research analyst at Ascendant Program Services, which provided support to SelectUSA for the research program.

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