Several Existing Lehigh Valley Companies Doubled Down on the Region in 2017
By Colin McEvoy on January 19, 2018
While helping attracting new businesses is a big part of what the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) does, an equally important component of the organization’s mission is helping existing businesses in the region continue to grow and thrive.
“Bringing in new companies tends to get the bigger headlines, but 70 percent of new jobs created in the Lehigh Valley each year come organically from companies already located here,” said Don Cunningham, LVEDC President and CEO.
The year 2017 included no shortage of existing companies within the Lehigh Valley expanding or doubling down on their investment in the region. Below are a few examples.
The Fortune 500 industrial gas company is planning a new corporate headquarters, and while the final location has not been determined, it is committed to remaining here in the Lehigh Valley.
Air Products has narrowed the list of potential sites to a property in Upper Saucon Township, its existing campus in Upper Macungie Township, and another site near Trexlertown, according to The Morning Call. A final decision is expected in the first half of this year.
Avantor, the global leader in integrated, tailored solutions for the life sciences and advanced technology industries, is moving from its previous Center Valley location into a new office in downtown Allentown.
The company has taken space in Tower 6, a 12-story building at Sixth and Hamilton streets, owned by City Center Lehigh Valley, and looks forward to establishing a “dynamic, contemporary workspace in the heart of this growing commercial and cultural area,” according to Avantor CEO Michael Stubblefield.
Mack Trucks announced in December that it was adding another 400 workers to its Lower Macungie Township plant, which had already employed about 2,000 people. This will bring employment at the facility to an all-time high.
“For more than 40 years, Lehigh Valley Operations has built high-quality, durable trucks that our customers can depend on, and we look forward to continuing that tradition with the Mack Anthem and the help of these new employees,” said Jonathan Randall, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Mack Trucks.
This comes in addition to the completed $3 million renovation and remodeling of its customer center, and the ongoing $70 million in investments to the Lower Macungie plant to further improve manufacturing quality and efficiency and modernize the facility
Last summer, Nestlé Waters completed a two-year, $79 million expansion of its 580,000 square-foot bottling facility in Upper Saucon Township, which included three new high-speed bottling lines and the addition of about 50 employees.
“Nestlé Waters is proud to be an active member of the Lehigh Valley community, both as an employer and a community partner,” said Plant Manager Mike Franceschetti. “Our decision to continue investing in the Lehigh Valley underscores our long-term commitment to the region, and we look forward to continued growth in the years ahead.”
Nestlé Waters opened its first Lehigh Valley bottling plant in 1995 with 75 local employees. Today, it employs about 500 people at its two Lehigh Valley bottling facilities, which have a combined payroll of more than $36 million, according to the company.
Sharp Packaging Solutions
The global market-leading packaging company continued its growth in the Lehigh Valley, announcing in April that it had acquired a 160,000 square-foot pharmaceutical packaging facility in Bethlehem from Daiichi Sankyo for $14 million.
That acquisition by Sharp Packaging Solutions comes in addition to the company increasing it capacity by 30 percent as the result of a $45 million expansion project at its Upper Macungie Township facility the previous year.
Uline, a leading distributor of shipping, industrial and packaging materials to businesses throughout North America, will be purchasing two warehouses in Upper Macungie Township that it currently leases from Liberty Property Trust.
Totaling about 1.7 million square feet, the warehouses, as well as a 44-acre site on the property that Uline is also purchasing, speaks to the company’s commitment to the Lehigh Valley, where it has operated since for 14 years.
Vastex International, Inc., a family-owned manufacturer screen-printing equipment for the garment textile industry, held a groundbreaking in May for a new 37,500 square-foot facility in the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII in Bethlehem, with plans for an eventual expansion.
The project is expected to create eight new jobs and retain 23 existing jobs. Vastex also drew the attention of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017, when he toured the facility as part of his statewide “Jobs That Pay” tour.
Victaulic, a Forks Township-based manufacturer of mechanical pipe joining solutions and grooved pipe joining systems, announced at the LVEDC Fall Signature Event that it will be investing tens of millions of dollars to increase its manufacturing operations in the region.
The global manufacturer is expanding its Lehigh Valley manufacturing operations and adding a second shift to its Forks Township facility. It is also purchasing 28 acres of land to build a brand 400,000 square-foot facility in Lower Nazareth Township, adding up to 50 new jobs by the end of 2018, according to Victaulic Chairman, President, and CEO John F. Malloy.
“A major aspect of our business strategy has always been to manufacture products in close proximity to our customers,” Malloy said. “While we already manufacture 80 percent of domestically sold products in the United States, this facility will further enhance our product delivery capabilities, making our U.S. operations even more competitive.”
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