Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), the economic development organization for Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, has launched a strategic planning process to help craft a regional strategy for Lehigh Valley’s economic development initiatives for the next decade.
LVEDC has contracted with site selection and economic development consultant Garner Economics, LLC to conduct a review of the region, identify Lehigh Valley’s strengths and weaknesses, and recommend economic development strategies.
The planning process, including the cost of the study by Garner Economics, is funded through a federal grant provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program.
Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC, said that we live in a period of tremendous economic change, and innovation and technology continue to affect all aspects of the economy. He said it was more critical than ever to take a hard look at the region’s strengths, weaknesses, assets and liabilities, and develop a strategic and smart approach on how to purse economic growth and market the region.
The study aims to develop a regional approach to growth and development that will help all Lehigh Valley entities engaged in development issues. It will help in aligning efforts around policy and funding issues between non-profits and government entities to better meet the entire Lehigh Valley’s long-term goals.
Jay Garner, who leads the Atlanta, Georgia-based Garner Economics, will hold focus groups next month with stakeholders from governments, businesses, organizations and academic institutions. He will also attend a meeting of government officials from all 62 municipalities and both counties.
The study will include an inventory of existing Lehigh Valley businesses, along with a cluster analysis of existing business types and a targeted analysis of the industry sectors that would be ideally suited for the area. The study will evaluate how the region’s assets can be used to attract these desired targeted industries.
It will also include statistical details about job classifications and the makeup of the workforce in the region. The study will identify, evaluate and prioritize development areas. It will examine current business retention efforts, focusing on preventive measures for assisting at-risk companies.
Holly Edinger, Envision Lehigh Valley study director, said the plan would be a roadmap not just for LVEDC, but also for all entities engaged in economic growth issues in Lehigh Valley.