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U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent Speaks at LVEDC Conversations and Cocktails Event

By Colin McEvoy on February 17, 2016

Despite his busy schedule in Washington D.C., U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent is regularly involved in economic development efforts in the Lehigh Valley, regularly contacting the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) with leads.

“Although you’re dealing with all these major national and international issues in Washington, you always take time to help with the development issues in your back yard,” said Don Cunningham, LVEDC President and CEO. “We’re fortunate to have somebody focused on pragmatic, realistic results in Washington. The term statesman comes to mind.”

More than 100 people came out to hear Dent, who represents Pennsylvania’s 15th district in the House of Representatives, at LVEDC’s first Conversations and Cocktails event of the year, held Tuesday at the Miller Symphony Hall in Allentown.

Dent spoke about everything from his initiatives in the House of Representatives, to local issues like his efforts to help open doors for prospects at the Kraft Heinz manufacturing plant in Upper Macungie, which announced in November that it was closing.

“We’re sorry to lose Kraft, but there’s opportunity here for us,” Dent said. “That’s good territory in Upper Macungie Township and we want to bring somebody in there who will be a real benefit to the Valley. The good news is Kraft Heinz is working with us closely on a transition plan for the community.”

Dent serves on the Committees of Appropriations and Ethics in the House, and said he is one of eight representatives who have been engaged with regular “tactical policy guidance” talks with Paul Ryan since he became Speaker of the House in October.

Regarding the year ahead, Dent said he will continue to push for systematic veteran affairs reform. His office has previously noted that of the 800,000 veterans who are waiting to be enrolled to receive health care through the VA, over 300,000 had died while waiting for their enrollment to be processed.

“Now is the time to once and for all integrate the veterans and civilian health system in this country,” Dent said. “It is long overdue. You would’ve never created a VA system like this in the year 2015 or 2016.”

Dent also said he will continue to battle the “scourge” of synthetic drugs, highly potent drugs like “flakka” and “molly” that are sold legally and many of which possess similar or greater narcotic effects than other illegal drugs like heroin or PCP.

Dent proposed legislation in September that would strengthen existing federal laws to facilitate the prosecution of synthetic drug manufacturers, distributors, and sellers. He stressed that he is not seeking to prosecutors users of the drug.

“That’s an issue we’re spending a great deal of time on,” he said.

The Conversations and Cocktails series is sponsored by Air Products. Dent was introduced by Robert Episcopo, Air Products’ manager of government relations, who praised the congressman’s support for manufacturing, noting his legislative record received the highest score from the National Association of Manufacturers.

“But Charlie means much more to all of us than merely his stance on manufacturing,” Episcopo said. “I’m not certain that we’re all aware of the breadth and scope of Charlie’s leadership in our country and in the world, quite frankly.”

The Conversations & Cocktails series allows LVEDC investors a unique opportunity to have targeted interaction with members of the Lehigh Valley’s legislative body in an intimate setting to discuss pressing economic issues.

For more information about upcoming LVEDC events, visit and bookmark lehighvalley.org/events.

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