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Editor at Large

Poconos eyes Valley meeting-business

- Last modified: March 28, 2014 at 12:10 PM

They see the growth in the Lehigh Valley. And they want its business.

Pocono Mountain resorts are making a tactical effort to lure Lehigh Valley businesses to drive north to hold their meetings and conferences.

Thursday evening, the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau made its first foray into the Lehigh Valley with that in mind, hosting a meeting planner appreciation reception at the Cosmopolitan in Downtown Allentown.

Downtown Allentown, of course, is where much of the action is these days in terms of new construction, new development and new businesses and companies moving in to populate those new office buildings. And with Bethlehem likely soon following suit with its own hundreds of millions of dollars in new development – thanks to its tax-incentive program – it makes the Lehigh Valley a very desirable target for the hospitality industry.

About 40 professionals attended Thursday's event at the Cosmo, which featured live music, drinks and – I happily add – great food. Carl Wilgus, PMVB president and CEO, David Jackson, PMVB vice president of sales, and representatives from Pocono resorts talked about what the region has to offer, from overnight accommodations to activities such as shopping, recreation and leisure.

Representatives from the Chateau, Cove Haven, Mount Airy, Shawnee Inn, Woodloch Pines, Camelback Mountain, Split Rock and Kalahari Resorts gave short presentations. Kalahari is the massive $350 million resort and convention center now under construction that expects to open in 2015.

Wilgus noted that Thursday's event was just a start in the bid to market the Poconos as a meeting destination for Lehigh Valley businesses and companies. The tourism promotion agency has been giving these receptions in other markets – such as Philadelphia, New York and Harrisburg – for years.

One of the speakers half-joked that since the Lehigh Valley borders the Poconos, perhaps the visitors bureau should revive one of its old slogans – a motto that was retired two decades ago: "The Near Country."

Indeed, whereas the Poconos has seen the Valley, the resorts now hope that the Valley has seen the mountaintop.

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