According to Garner Economics, LLC the Lehigh Valley has a rich history of creating and investing in economic development foundations and assets to make it a good location for business. This asset base is key to the region’s competitiveness. The principles upon which the foundations have been built will serve the region well as it looks to take the next step in targeting and coordinating its marketing efforts and telling the world of the varied attributes of the Lehigh Valley. Among these economic development principles that the Valley should continue to build are:
· Effective use of available land and sites.
· Best practice redevelopment programs.
· Developing workforce talent.
· Creative local funding streams.
The Blueprint for Success developed by Garner Economics, LLC also included a detailed Competitive Realities Report (CRR). The CRR is a compilation of local facts and data points with quantitative analysis and some subjective opinions noted in the Assets and Challenges Assessment.
Together, the Assets and Challenges Assessment, Benchmarking Scorecard, and Stakeholder Input documented where the Valley stands against its benchmark regions, its assets and challenges as a business location, and provided feedback and perceptions from a broad range of stakeholders.
In the Assets and Challenges Assessment 66 variables were analyzed, 38 are considered an Asset and 11 a Challenge (17 rated as Neutral). This ratio of Assets to Challenges is one of the strongest positive ratios Garner has analyzed over the last 11 years. They commented that “The diverse and rich assets of the Lehigh Valley have made the region a global competitor. Better leveraging the region’s assets will be key as the Lehigh Valley capitalizes on its position among the top-fifth of metropolitan areas nationwide.”
The third phase of the report by Garner Economics, LLC was an optimal industry target selection is based on the site-specific characteristics of the Lehigh Valley economy. Using results from the previously completed Competitive Realities Report, the Assets and challenges Assessment, focus groups, and field visits, four industry targets were chosen that best match the unique competitive advantages in the area to the needs of particular industry sectors. Special attention was given to industries in the midst of significant change or innovative transformation with the strong likelihood that there will be increased interest in adding or moving operational sites. Each sector selected has a record of above-average wages, projected positive growth, and participation in commercial activities that will create wealth in Lehigh Valley in both the short- and long-term.
HIGH PERFORMANCE MANUFACTURING
Lehigh Valley is well positioned to take advantage of expanding opportunities in the manufacturing sector. After several decades of employment decline, US manufacturing switched direction mid-2010 and has since been adding workers at an annual pace of more than 200,000 net new jobs. The High Performance Manufacturing target is a select group of high-wage industries that are expected to experience exceptional growth and align well with Lehigh Valley’s unique assets.
HIGH VALUE BUSINESS SERVICES
The High Value Business Services target leverages Lehigh Valley’s unique asset mix with a select group of industries benefiting from the convergence of significant economic and technological forces (Table 4).
Subsector targets are responding to the demands of corporations that are seeking to adapt to rapid changes in customer expectations (increased online commercial operations, cloud computing, debit/credit card use, and smart phone transactions) while desiring to maintain focus on their core business activities.
LIFE SCIENCES RESEARCH & MANUFACTURING
The Life Sciences Research & Manufacturing target aligns Lehigh Valley’s competitive advantages in the
Life, Biological & Biomedical Sciences fields with new opportunities emerging in the fast-changing life sciences commercial environment. Firms seeking to survive and potentially prosper in the current uncertain market will be actively seeking to advance new products and services and, along with the expected increase in mergers and acquisitions, should afford Lehigh Valley attractive new prospect possibilities.
FOOD & BEVERAGE PROCESSING
The Food & Beverage Processing target represents a distinct area focused on leveraging Lehigh Valley’s economic assets with numerous new subsector opportunities driven largely by the industry’s response to changing customer demands.
The Food & Beverage Processing sector is in the midst of significant upheaval and presents substantial opportunities for new firm attraction and development. Consumer demand divided across a wide range of eating preferences is rapidly fragmenting the industry. Product innovation is being driven largely by evolving consumption desires in variety, health, and convenience. A sample of the developing food categories demonstrates the immense variety in the sector: ethnic, fresh, organics, restaurant-quality frozen, meal kits, handheld entrees, fortified, and gluten-free. Growth of the beverage market, characterized in the breweries and wineries subsectors, demonstrate the rising appeal of craft and unique local offerings
For the full report see:
A Blueprint for Success: An economic development strategy for sustainable growth in the Lehigh Valley
For details about LVEDC: www.lehighvalley.org