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International guests looking to invest eye Downtown Allentown, other Valley sites

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Jim Harbaugh, vice president of sales for City Center Investment Corp., talks to participants of a foreign investment conference as they tour the new City Center offices on the sixth floor of the Two City Center building in Downtown Allentown. The city was one of three stops in the Lehigh Valley for the tour on Tuesday.
Jim Harbaugh, vice president of sales for City Center Investment Corp., talks to participants of a foreign investment conference as they tour the new City Center offices on the sixth floor of the Two City Center building in Downtown Allentown. The city was one of three stops in the Lehigh Valley for the tour on Tuesday. - (Photo By Brian Pedersen)

A regional economic development agency led international investors on a tour through three Lehigh Valley sites on Monday to show off area companies to participants in a foreign trade investment program.

About 350 people attended the World Forum for the Foreign Direct Investment conference in Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. won one of the tours outside the Philadelphia region, said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC.

“We’ve been focused on international investment,” Cunningham said. “It’s the first time the world forum has been in the United States. We want them to be aware of and exposed to the Lehigh Valley.”

The tour of 25 people first stopped at Martin Guitar in Nazareth, where participants learned about guitar manufacturing, then it was off to see the Allentown transformation with a tour of Two City Center, a new 11-story office building that opened in March.

Finally, the tour concluded with a stop at B. Braun Medical Inc. in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, for a walk through of the medical device manufacturing facility.

City Center Investment Corp. hosted the Allentown portion of the tour and Jim Harbaugh, vice president of sales, led a presentation on the progress of the projects City Center invested in the city, highlighting the economic revitalization underway.

“Everything you see happening here is happening within the last two-and-a-half years,” Harbaugh said. “The Lehigh Valley is a place where things are happening.”

Harbaugh said the Two City Center building, which now serves as headquarters to National Penn Bank, is almost fully leased on the office side, except for one space of about 8,000 square feet.

Air Products & Chemicals Inc., a global company headquartered in the Lehigh Valley, is moving a division into the fourth floor of the building in September, Harbaugh said.

Part of what’s driving new tenants to these properties is the Neighborhood Improvement Zone, legislation created in 2009 and finalized in 2012, he added.

Even though City Center has completed one 11-story office building it has several more projects nearing completion, including One City Center in July, the Renaissance Hotel by Marriott by fall, and an incubator/accelerator space by the summer. The company recently broke ground on two more projects (Three and Four City Center) set for a 2015 finish and is looking to do more.

“We have the capacity to build three more significant buildings in the city,” Harbaugh said.

About half of Three City Center is already leased, even though site work began only recently.

For future development, City Center is looking ahead at sites on Eighth and Hamilton streets and 932 Hamilton Street.

Afterward, investors toured the City Center Investment Corp.’s new headquarters office on the sixth floor of Two City Center, which offers views of several projects under construction.

Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it. Brian also has a strong interest in health and fitness. He works part-time as a personal trainer at Steel Fitness Riverport in Bethlehem and earned his personal fitness trainer certification from World Instructor Training Schools. He loves to run and will be competing in his first half-marathon on Nov. 23 to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

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