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LVEDC Virtual Annual Meeting Program Looks Back on Past Year in Economic Development

By Colin McEvoy on March 22, 2022

LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham speaking during the organization’s 2022 virtual annual meeting program.

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) presented its 2022 Annual Meeting program today, looking back on the past year in economic trends, development projects, key initiatives, economic data, and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

“The Lehigh Valley remains in steady evolution,” LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham said. “Day by day, month by month, a new Lehigh Valley emerges. New generations and new people are filling our cities and driving our companies; new companies, different than those of my youth. The Lehigh Valley is being reborn.”

The video program was streamed live on LVEDC’s Facebook page on March 22, and is available to be viewed there, on the organization’s YouTube channel, and below.

The program was produced by PBS39, Lehigh Valley’s public broadcasting station.

Cunningham delivered keynote remarks that touched upon such topics as the region’s economic output, new projects and jobs created in 2021, regional population growth, migration trends, income and employment data, and more.

This information, summarizing a full year of economic development in the Lehigh Valley, is also available in the LVEDC 2021 Annual Report, which was released simultaneously with the annual meeting program and can be viewed or downloaded here.

Although the LVEDC annual meeting was not held in person this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, Cunningham said the organization hopes to hold an in-person event highlighting the regional economy some time in the fall if public health conditions permit.

During his remarks, Cunningham noted that the Lehigh Valley has once again ranked a top U.S. Region for economic development. LVEDC tracked more than 50 major expansion or new development projects last year that created or retained more than 5,000 jobs. 

For a sixth consecutive year, the Lehigh Valley placed in the Top 10 regions nationwide with a population between 200,000 and 1 million, and in the Top 10 in the Northeast U.S. for regions of any size for economic development projects completed, according to Site Selection’s prestigious Governor’s Cup Awards.

“GDP in 2020 was $42.9 billion, only slightly down from a record $44.2 billion in 2019, despite the mandated closure or reduced operations of many businesses during the 2nd and 3rd quarters to stem the spread of COVID-19,” Cunningham said during his remarks.

Manufacturing accounted for $7.9 billion of the regional GDP, or 18.5% of our private sector output, Cunningham said. That launched the Lehigh Valley into one of the Top 50 manufacturing markets in the United States. The annual meeting program included a video by FireRock Productions highlighting the role of manufacturing in the Lehigh Valley’s history and its current economic renaissance.

“The importance of the Lehigh Valley’s premier role as a manufacturer, producer and distributor of goods became clearer as many of the region’s 700 manufacturers produced food, drinks, medical equipment, supplies and other essential items that sustained the nation,” Cunningham said.

Since 2010, Lehigh Valley’s population rose by 6.2% to 687,508, making it one of Pennsylvania’s fastest growing regions and one of the top 25% fastest growing regions in the nation.

“More importantly, the population between the ages 18 to 34 years old grew by 10.7% during that time, making the Lehigh Valley the fastest growing region in the state for young people, who now are the largest generation in our workforce,” Cunningham said.

He also cited several major business attraction or retention projects that took place in 2021, including A.P. Deauville, Bio Med Sciences, BusPatrol America, Capital Blue Cross, Cigars International, D. Gillette Industrial Services, Follett, Martin Guitar, Penn State Lehigh Valley, Sharp, Yourway, Stuffed Puffs, and SunOpta.

Ed Dougherty, Chair of the LVEDC Board of Directors, welcomed new board members and acknowledged outgoing members during the annual meeting program. He also discussed LVEDC’s record-high $756,000 in investment and sponsorships from 2021.

“It’s truly been an honor to work with so many talented professionals in both the public and private sectors, all with the same goal of growing the Lehigh Valley, and I look forward to continuing those efforts in 2022 and beyond,” Dougherty said.

LVEDC Releases 2021 Annual Report, Available Online

Despite the challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis in 2021, the Lehigh Valley is positioned well for continued economic growth in both traditional areas of strength and[...]

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