THE LVEDC INTERVIEW: DIANE DONAHER
By LVEDC Staff on March 18, 2014
Editor’s Note – Diane Donaher assumed the position of director of community and economic development in Northampton County earlier this year under the direction of new executive John Brown. Although she is new to the position, she is no stranger to economic development, nor is she new to the Lehigh Valley, where she has been visible throughout the years in many capacities.
LVEDC: How did you get into the economic development business?
DIANE DONAHER: I served as Deputy Director of Economic Development for the City of Bethlehem from 1998 -2001. It was a very exciting time for the City of Bethlehem. Working with the passionate small business owners of two vibrant downtowns, the visions for the future of Bethlehem Steel property, the town –gown relationships with Lehigh University and Moravian College, businesses coming into and growing in LVIP, and helping to promote the historic and cultural gems of the city were great experiences!
LVEDC: If you had to explain “economic development” to a neophyte how would you do it?
DONAHER: A concerted effort in a community to create jobs through recruiting new employers, retaining/expanding existing business, and promoting the cultural, historic and recreational assets all to improve the economic well-being and quality of life in the community.
LVEDC: What attracted you to join John Brown’s cabinet in Northampton County?
DONAHER: Northampton County is an exciting mix of urban, suburban and rural communities.
I get to spend every day working for our citizens in all those communities creating economic and community development strategies to meet each of their very different needs. I also like to to provide connections, build relationships and collaborate to leverage resources for a positive economic impact in Northampton County.
LVEDC: What are the top economic development assets in Northampton County?
DONAHER: Expanding connectivity infrastructure of interstate and highway systems.
Strong higher education institutions with established history of partnering with businesses, the rebirth of core communities and a great quality of life!
DONAHER: Only opportunities! There is a need to continue strengthening the coordination and collaboration between economic development organizations’ and municipalities. We also need to work on infrastructure that is not as dynamic in rural areas planned for industrialized use (water, broadband, etc.)
LVEDC: What are your top priorities to accomplish this year as county DCED director?
DONAHER: It’s important that Northampton County has an efficient and effective department of community and economic development. We have a great team of community and economic development professionals who are doing outstanding work. This year I want to examine the structure of the DCED as well as its capacity and efficiency. Our team will create an economic development plan that will identify proactive initiatives to spur development, with a special focus on redevelopment opportunities for smaller communities. And obviously there is a human element to economic development. By that I mean the goal of our office is to provide the necessary support so that business prospects say “Northampton County is the place I want my business to grow!”
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