Lehigh Valley Ranked #1 Mid-Sized Market in U.S. for Economic Development

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Fifty projects in the Lehigh Valley qualified under the criteria for the magazine’s prestigious Governor’s Cup Awards, which consider projects that have been completed or announced of at least 20,000 square feet, an investment of at least $1 million, or the creation of at least 20 new jobs.

The Lehigh Valley competed against regions with populations of between 200,000 and 1 million. Last year, the Lehigh Valley ranked No. 2.

“The No. 1 ranking is a remarkable achievement, considering the Lehigh Valley competes against the hottest markets in high-growth regions of the South and Southwest,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. (LVEDC). “Our economic growth, which creates opportunities for people of all education and skill levels, is the result of partnership and collaboration, with the entire region working toward common goals with a unified voice.”

The Lehigh Valley’s Gross Domestic Product now exceeds $50 billion. It has grown steadily, increasing by $10 billion in the last five years. As that productivity has increased, so has the outlook for the families who live and work here. Median household income has risen and now exceeds the state and national medians. Poverty has decreased to rates lower than the state and nation.

“The Lehigh Valley’s success can be traced to our roots as a hotbed of manufacturing,” Cunningham said. “We have always made things. What has changed is what we make. Today, we are home to a diversity of innovative manufacturers who produce a wide variety of goods, ranging from technology to medical devices to food and beverages. Those companies are drawn here because of the Lehigh Valley’s location, skilled workforce, and talent.”

Some of the major projects in 2023 included Schless Bottles’ announcement that it would be moving its manufacturing operations from New Jersey to Allentown, creating nearly 100 jobs; the expansion of Polymer Contours, a plastic injection molding company in Allentown; the opening of HAWE Hydraulik’s manufacturing facility for pumps and compressors in Bethlehem Township; and Nordson Medical, a global producer of medical device components, expanding its operations in Palmer Township.

“One of the first press trips I ever took in my 22 years with Site Selection was to the Lehigh Valley region” said Site Selection Editor-in-Chief Adam Bruns, who recalls learning about Bethlehem Steel property redevelopment, the engineering and materials leadership at Lehigh University, and the area’s German and Moravian roots.

“I have since watched as the area’s economy has diversified, attracting not only the surge of recent logistics and industrial projects, but now a surge of people discovering or rediscovering the quality of life to be found across the region,” Bruns said.

Published by Conway Data, Site Selection is an authority in the corporate real estate and economic development field. The magazine has a circulation of 41,000 executives involved in corporate site selection decisions.


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