At its annual meeting Tuesday night, The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. unveiled a marketing campaign designed to attract companies to the region.
The nonprofit, anchored by the campaign phrase, “Made Possible in Lehigh Valley,” aims to attract employers and encourage existing businesses to use it to tell their own stories.
“It’s something we encourage businesses to use,” said Colin McEvoy, director of communications for LVEDC. “We think the employers, by telling their stories, that’s one of the best ways to do that. We view it as a creative way to market the Lehigh Valley.”
LVEDC said it worked closely with stakeholders and regional companies in creating the campaign, including consultants, human resources professionals, and government partners. The organization hopes that those who adopt the message will use it for their own marketing efforts with some consistency in branding.
Aside from campaign, LVEDC highlighted several areas of growth the region saw in 2018 and shared details from its annual report.
“Our Lehigh Valley grew a lot in 2018,” said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC. “It was a record year in the midst of a five-year growth spurt.”
The gross domestic product generated in Lehigh and Northampton counties surpassed $40 billion, he said.
Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis show the Lehigh Valley’s gross domestic product (GDP) for private sector industry has grown to $40.1 billion, a jump from last year’s record-high $39.1 billion for 2016, according to LVEDC, which obtained and analyzed the figures.
Last year, the region cracked the top five in fastest growing regions in the U.S. with a population of fewer than one million people, according to Site Selection Magazine.
The publication of the Industrial Asset Management Council publishes its annual Governor’s Cup, which ranks all 50 states and the country’s metropolitan regions on number of projects, investment, and job creation in 2018. Boston was just one ranking above the Lehigh Valley with six more projects than the valley’s 25 major developments, Cunningham said.
No other region in the Northeast U.S., other than the Lehigh Valley with a population of 200,000 to 1 million people made the Governor’s Cup National Top 10 List, he said.
For the Lehigh Valley, the overall five-year job growth rate is 5.4 percent.
With more than 58,000 workers, health care is the largest employer in the two counties.
Last year, LVEDC tracked 33 major business attraction, expansion and retention projects, he said.
One of the major announcements was Air Products’ decision to stay in the valley and build a new global headquarters in Upper Macungie Township.
Its local competitor, Air Liquide, opened an expanded facility in Mt. Bethel with 290 advanced manufacturing jobs. Also in 2018, payroll firm ADP selected downtown Allentown to relocate from its suburban office space in the valley, shifting nearly 1,500 jobs to the new space, a move expected to take place this summer.
Other major announcements included a major renovation and expansion for Freshpet in Hanover Township, Northampton County, that could add more than 100 workers and the addition of another 250 jobs for B. Braun Medical Inc., which will expand its manufacturing facility in Hanover Township, Lehigh County.
The opening of the FedEx Ground facility in Allen Township in 2018 was another significant project as it is the company’s largest distribution facility in the eastern U.S., he said.
Lehigh and Northampton counties now have a total labor force of 345,000 workers and the lowest unemployment since before the 2008 recession, he added.
In addition, the average hourly wage across all occupations is $22.94 and the median household income hit $62,489.
Furthermore, manufacturing, which makes up 18 percent of the Lehigh Valley economy, employs nearly 34,000 workers, an amount that’s increasing each of the past several years, he said.
He described the region’s economy as one that’s balanced and diverse, with job growth in manufacturing, office and industrial centers.