She has a big heart and is sweet, but inside she's a tiger when it comes to competition.Those traits, in turn, helped Cindy McDonnell Feinberg spur a “whirlwind of new development in Lehigh County,” Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., said Wednesday night at LVEDC's annual awards ceremony in Allentown.
Feinberg was named LVEDC's Most Valuable Person for 2013 thanks to her role in deals that resulted in a total investment of $286 million and the creation or retention of 740 jobs for Lehigh County – transactions that occurred the past eight years when she was director of the county's Department of Community and Economic Development.
Feinberg said she was "honored and humbled" by the award, which was a surprise announcement at the ceremony, held at Miller Symphony Hall. This fall, Feinberg resigned her county post to launch Feinberg Real Estate Advisors LLC in South Whitehall Township, a venture she is undertaking with her husband, Gregg Feinberg.
"It was a wonderful ride. … I had the best job in the entire Lehigh Valley," Feinberg told the audience of several hundred business and economic development professionals.
Cunningham emceed the ceremony, which also honored seven companies that received awards that were announced last week. In his remarks, Cunningham stressed that the area needs to work together as a region to attract and grow business, saying that the "real competition" is outside the Lehigh Valley.
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, whose city is undergoing a dramatic infusion of new construction in its center city, told audience members they all should be award winners.
"Allentown literally is rebuilding itself … because of all of you in this room …," Pawlowski said. "You are all helping to rebuild the economy of Allentown and the economy of this region."
The other award 2013 LVEDC award winners:
• National Penn Bank won Urban Project of the Year – Commercial for moving its headquarters to Two City Center in Allentown and helping to spearhead the downtown's massive boom in redevelopment.
• Crayola LLC won Urban Project of the Year – Industrial for its new distribution center in South Bethlehem, one that will rely heavily on rail transportation.
• Green Knight Economic Development Corp. was named LVEDC Partner of the Year for offering more than $1 million in funds for the building of the Slate Belt YMCA in Pen Argyl.
• Michelman Steel Enterprises LLC won New Business Project of the Year for bringing steel-making back to the Lehigh Valley with a fabrication facility in Upper Macungie Township.
• Follett Corp. won Expansion Project of the Year for expanding and adding new equipment at its Forks Township facility, retaining 300 employees and making room for 50 new jobs.
• Freshpet won Attraction Project of the Year – Small/Medium Business. The company moved to Lehigh Valley Industrial Park IV in Hanover Township, Northampton County, a $30 million undertaking that created 125 new jobs.
• Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. won Attraction Project of the Year – Large Business. It plans to open a $110 million nearly 300,000-square-foot facility in Upper Macungie Township in the first quarter of 2014, employing 165 people.