Several European Companies Express Interest in Lehigh Valley During LVEDC International Tour
By Colin McEvoy on June 2, 2015
Several European companies have expressed interest in learning more about the Lehigh Valley — and exploring the possibility of establishing U.S. locations in the region — as a result of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation‘s (LVEDC) international business development tour.
LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham has been spreading the word about the Lehigh Valley’s economic assets during the tour, which includes stops in Germany, France and England with the purpose of attracting foreign direct investment to the region.
“The prospects for international developments from Europe are strong,” Cunningham said. “It is critical, however, to put in the effort to visit their home offices to discuss the economic assets and opportunities in the Lehigh Valley. So far, this has been a very encouraging trip with a strong prospect for some direct success.”
Cunningham was accompanied by Jarrett Witt, LVEDC Director of Economic Development, who is responsible for international prospects and recruitment. The trip was organized by the Pennsylvania International Development Office, which is part of the Department of Community and Economic Development.
Cunningham, Witt and state economic development staff met with three French companies on June 1, including a large multi-national pharmaceutical company and a food producer, both of which are considering the Lehigh Valley as an entry into the U.S. market.
“We discussed the tremendous assets of the Lehigh Valley and the opportunities for the companies in the United States market from a location in Lehigh or Northampton counties,” Cunningham said. “The Lehigh Valley is considered a possible location for both companies.”
The next day, Cunningham and Witt visited a company in Manchester, England, that has shortlisted the Lehigh Valley as a possible home for its first U.S. operation. LVEDC has been actively engaged with this company in the past and are working toward completing a deal for the region.
Additionally, Cunningham gave a presentation before 25 German business leaders in Dortmund, where he discussed the economic advantages of the Lehigh Valley. At least three German-based companies have expressed interested in visiting the region as a result, including two manufacturers and a technology start-up.
The Lehigh Valley is a strong and growing market for international companies. About one third of LVEDC’s current prospects are coming from outside the country, Cunningham said. The region boasts a strong base of existing international companies, including such companies Olympus Corp., B. Braun, Nestlé, Mack Trucks, Sodexo, Bosch Rexroth, Porsche, BMW, FLSmidth, Primark and Lafarge.
Running from May 24 to June 5, LVEDC’s tour targets international markets with the strongest concentration of prospects for the Lehigh Valley’s target industries. The tour includes daily direct marketing to prospective companies, including visits with several international prospects with which LVEDC has already been previously engaged.
Safran — an international high-technology company in the aerospace, defense and security markets — was among the French companies Cunningham and Witt visited. At the start of the tour, LVEDC announced the Safran subsidiary Messier-Buggati-Dotwy, a world leader in aircraft landing and braking systems, has established a new wheel and brake repair facility in Lower Nazareth Township.
During the meeting on June 1, LVEDC and Safran explored prospects for future business, as Cunningham and Witt discussed the fullness of its U.S. and worldwide operations. Safran has 7,000 employees in the United States, now including the Lehigh Valley, and has about 69,000 across the world.
LVEDC did the French and German visits along with Wilfred Muskens, Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary for International Business Development, as well as representatives of the state’s international office in France and Germany. Pennsylvania’s Office of International Business Development has committed its global network of trade and investment offices to assist LVEDC in identifying and arranging company visits with qualified prospects.
“We are grateful to the efforts and investment made by the state international development office to cultivate these opportunities,” Cunningham said.
In the past year alone, the Lehigh Valley has seen the expansions or additions of such international companies as SunOpta Inc., a Canadian organic foods company; Mountain Warehouse, a London-based outdoor clothing retailer; Primark, an Irish online fashion retailer; and I2R Nanowave, a Canadian aerospace equipment manufacturer.
Additionally, Taizhou Fuling Plastics Co., China’s largest manufacturer of plastic tableware and kitchenware, last year announced plans for a $21.3 million facility in Upper Macungie Township, becoming the first Chinese manufacturing company to establish a facility in the state of Pennsylvania.
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