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NEW PRESIDENT, RENEWED HOPE Leaner regulations and taxes could signal big year for economy

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Rendering of 560 Waterfront Drive (left), 615 Waterfront Drive (middle) and 645 Waterfront Drive, expected to be
built in the next couple of years in Allentown along the Lehigh River as part of The Waterfront project. MKSD architects
designed 560 and 645 Waterfront, while Cope Linder designed 615 Waterfront
Rendering of 560 Waterfront Drive (left), 615 Waterfront Drive (middle) and 645 Waterfront Drive, expected to be built in the next couple of years in Allentown along the Lehigh River as part of The Waterfront project. MKSD architects designed 560 and 645 Waterfront, while Cope Linder designed 615 Waterfront

Change is in the air.

It’s a change that can be felt globally, nationally and locally.

The shift will come with a new U.S. president whom many in the business community say will focus on improving the economic climate for businesses both large and small. It’s an approach they say will be felt across the nation, including, of course, throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley.

Granted, any new political regime will bring changes, uncertainties and anxieties. But a considerable number of people entrenched in the region’s business community appear to welcome the outcome of the 2016 election.

President-elect Donald Trump has made it a priority to focus on reducing federal regulations, cutting taxes, overhauling the health care system and bringing more manufacturing jobs to the U.S. How this all plays out on a national and local level – and the impacts it will bring to businesses – is for the future to tell.

“It is too early for anyone to know for sure what a Trump administration will look like …” writes Jack Pfunder, president and CEO of the region’s Manufacturers Resource Center (Page 4). “There is one thing for sure, Washington will operate much differently this year than it did last year.”

Last year proved to be one of strong growth in construction projects for the Greater Lehigh Valley. Expect that growth to continue across the board in 2017 as demand stays strong.

This clearly can be seen with new apartment projects underway, mainly in the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, as well as space being built for fresh office buildings and retail establishments.

Aside from apartments, one can expect to see more construction of assisted living developments as the population of aging boomers grows.

While demand still exists for new single-family homes, construction is much more stagnant and slower paced and should stay that way for 2017.

Higher education organizations will continue efforts to build facilities to accommodate the needs of students seeking space to explore careers that are in demand.

Colleges and universities will also strive to deepen their connections to the towns and cities they call home by occupying space in offices farther from their footprint and closer to the business community.

The new year brings with it further expansion and growth for smaller manufacturers, which is showing gains throughout the region. While automation continues to march forward – using technology to grow – manufacturing is getting leaner and employee counts smaller.

Expect to see more innovation from a growing number of companies who make products in the Greater Lehigh Valley in 2017.

Health care will continue its expansive rise with new medical office buildings opening, and, potentially, the full completion of a major hospital merger.

Could more be coming? It’s highly likely.

Rapid advancements in technology will further change and shape the way health care organizations do business, provide services and compete.

Meanwhile, tourism, particularly in the Poconos, should benefit this year from increased investments in expanding and renovating resorts, adding amenities that include new waterparks.

All told, 2017 offers an optimistic outlook for a favorable year for those doing business in the region.

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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. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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