Despite the economic complications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lehigh Valley again ranked among the fastest-growing regions in the United States, highlighting its ongoing and robust economic growth. Large-scale economic projects in the region contributed to its continued growth over the last year.
Each year, Site Selection magazine bestows the Governor’s Cup Awards to metropolitan regions across the United States based on economic development. Site Selection is among the oldest and most widely-read publications in the corporate real estate and economic development space. The awards designate the best-performing metropolitan regions based on economic development by tracking business development projects. The magazine does not disclose which development projects are identified for the rankings.
The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation(“LVEDC”) submitted economic projects for consideration in the awards. According to LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham, “[t]hese rankings show that the fundamental strengths of the Lehigh Valley economy remain strong and have helped us weather the COVID-19 crisis.” He went on to note “[t]he Lehigh Valley is positioned well for continued economic growth in both traditional areas of strength and in new sectors emerging in a post-pandemic economic of rapid change and development.”
For the sixth consecutive year, the Lehigh Valley placed among the top ten metropolitan regions with between 200,000 and 1 million residents. For similarly-sized regions, Dayton, Ohio, placed at the top of the list, with Greenville, South Carolina, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in second and third place, respectively. The Lehigh Valley tied with Akron, Ohio, for eighth place.
The Lehigh Valley also placed among the top ten metropolitan regions in the Northeast regardless of size, ranking sixth on that list, with New York-Newark-Jersey City in first place, Boston-Cambridge-Newton in second place, and Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington in third place. It is particularly impressive to see the Lehigh Valley on this list, given that it competes against the substantial resources of larger metropolitan areas.
The LVEDC identified many of the large-scale projects that may have contributed to the region’s strong showing in 2021. For instance, the internationally acclaimed guitar manufacturer C.F. Martin & Company (“Martin Guitar”) recently announced a new 200,000 square-foot distribution facility in Tatamy, Pennsylvania, just down the road from the company’s headquarters in Upper Nazareth Township. The new building is planned to consolidate existing storage and distribution facilities into a new modern, climate-controlled operation.
Another local business, Cigars International, is expanding its headquarters in Bethlehem by an additional 100,000 square feet, doubling its footprint in the Lehigh Valley. The company, an online and catalog-based retailer of quality cigars, believes its sustained year-over-year growth justifies the expansion. The project is expected to be complete this winter.
A staple of Lehigh Valley business, Sharp Packaging Solutions, is also expanding its presence in the Lehigh Valley and creating 1,400 new jobs in the area. The clinical supply chain company is expanding its existing Upper Macungie Township facility and upgrading its newly-acquired facility in Lower Macungie Township.
These are not the only projects contributing to the region’s growth. The Lehigh Valley also saw new projects by Stuffed Puffs, Bio Med Sciences, Capital Blue Cross, and Penn State Lehigh Valley, to name just a few. And it is not surprising that the Lehigh Valley continues to witness economic growth, given population growth of 6.2% over the last decade.