Page 44 - Network Magazine Spring 2019
P. 44

            The Lehigh Valley is a region
that embodies meaningful
evolution
DON CUNNINGHAM, PRESIDENT & CEO OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
Those of us who live and work in the Lehigh Valley every day already know what a special place it is. Now we want to make sure the rest of the world knows as well.
It’s not difficult to demonstrate the economic success our region has continued to experience. Just take a look at our gross domestic product (GDP) – the measurement of a region’s economic output – which reached a record-high $40.1 billion this year.
That’s the first time we’ve ever surpassed the $40 billion mark, which means that, once again, the Lehigh Valley economy has never been better. Our GDP is larger than that of Vermont ($27.4 billion) and Wyoming ($34 billion), as well as 112 other countries in the world. In fact, if we were a country, we’d be the 88th largest in the world in terms of economic output.
Not only is our regional economy strong, but it’s also very well-balanced. In many metropolitan areas, much of the economic output comes from one single sector, and then there is a significant drop-off among the rest.
However, that's not the case in the Lehigh Valley: our top two sectors are very close together, with finance, insur- ance, and real estate making up $7.6 billion, and manu- facturing making up $7.4 billion. Likewise, our next two highest sectors are nearly even, with education, health care, and social assistance comprising $5.5 billion, and professional services at $5.2 billion.
What all of this means is, simply put, all our eggs are not in one basket. An economy that depends too much on a single sector means when that industry suffers, so too does the region. That’s not the case in the Lehigh Valley; the days of depending too much on a single employer like Bethlehem Steel are long gone.
And yet manufacturing is not just a thing of the past in the Lehigh Valley: it’s part of our present and future as well.
Manufacturing made up 18.4 percent of our overall regional economy last year, which is a much higher per- centage than the 11.6 percent it represents in the overall U.S. economy. Manufacturing was also our fastest-growing economic sector, having grown just over 10 percent com- pared to the previous year.
This balance of our history and deep roots and the forward-thinking evolution of the Lehigh Valley economy is directly at the heart of a new marketing campaign LVEDC is rolling out this year, which will be anchored by the phrase: “Made Possible in Lehigh Valley.”
We’ve commissioned this campaign to increase outside awareness of the Lehigh Valley, develop a positive image of the region, and market it as a desirable and attractive place to live to drive talent acquisition and retention.
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