Friday, July 26, 2013

Heads Roll at LVEDC

Today is the last day on the job at Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. (LVEDC) for three of their top people.

These three heavyweights are Pete Reinke, VP of Business Development; Jean Mateff, VP of Administration and Investor Relations; and Bob Bilheimer, Director of Business Expansion. They got word on Tuesday. From what I've been able to piece together, CEO Don Cunningham thinks it's time for the organization to move in a different direction. I'm told the termination has nothing to do with any dissatisfaction with the job performance of affected employees. It might be an effort to cut costs or a desire by Cunningham to bring in his own people ... with a lower handicap.

Summer hours, you know.

In addition to these three highly ranked officials, at least other two staffers are departing as well. One is retiring and another is on her way to Ohio.

This sudden shake-up, which appears to have been handled poorly, does nothing to inspire confidence in the economic development arm of the Lehigh Valley. Funded in large part by hotel tax from both counties, there is increasing concern that the investment just isn't worth it.

Updated 1:30 PM: Cunningham Confirms Termination

Here's his statement:

Several of the people you may have been accustomed to working with at the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. will be leaving the organization this week.

Jean Mateff, vice president of administration and investor relations, Pete Reinke, vice president of development, and Bob Bilheimer, director of business retention and expansion, will be leaving as part of a restructuring. The changes are part of a year-long analysis by me, president and chief executive officer, and the LVEDC Board to improve the strategy, structure and performance of the organization to better serve the marketing and economic development needs of the Lehigh Valley.

Each of these employees have considerable skills and experience and I’m confident that in the right role that they can be an asset to other organizations or companies in the Lehigh Valley or beyond.

Change is always difficult but it is a constant in life. Change is a critical part of continuous improvement. And, LVEDC still needs to improve. We have returned the organization to its core mission: to market the Lehigh Valley’s economic assets inside and outside the region and to be a one-stop shop working with a myriad of partners to help businesses to come here, grow here and to start here. But, more work remains.

We have instituted a new culture. A culture based on results not process, performance not public relations and strategy and accountability not just managing the “in-box.” It would be easier to embrace the status quo but, frankly, it’s not good enough to serve the Lehigh Valley.

LVEDC is not the story. The Lehigh Valley is the story. Economic development is the result of many partners working together from local, county and state governments to real estate brokers and developers to regional organizations to companies and entrepreneurs.

We are in a period of tremendous economic change across the world, the United States and our Lehigh Valley. The advent of lightning speed technology and the Internet has changed every aspect of the economy from our factory floors to the way we purchase consumer goods. It will continue to change the types of jobs the economy creates and the way companies do business. It continues to affect land use policies and job training needs here.

In the Lehigh Valley, we need to be more strategic, more focused, more regional and more aggressive to ensure that the economy of tomorrow here greatly exceeds the economic successes of our past. The economic world is not standing still. It changes every day, sometimes every hour. The Lehigh Valley needs an LVEDC that keeps pace with the economy that we are charged with developing and promoting here.

We have considerable talent in the Lehigh Valley both within LVEDC and outside in both the public and private sectors. In the coming weeks, we will be announcing some promotions and additions to our staff, all with a focus on getting the right people on the bus and putting them in the right seat.

I’m committed to making LVEDC the best regional economic development organization in Pennsylvania and the Northeastern U.S. I know that our Board of Directors expects nothing less, nor should our partners and the people of the Lehigh Valley.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Then perhaps it's time to shut it down

Anonymous said...

not with Cunningham at the helm. He was a poor selection. Losing Pete is particularly disturbing. He is honest , hard working, and was the face that could be trusted through the various changes that occurred at LVEDC. There is no one there who can be trusted now except maybe Kingsley. What a bloody mess.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:18 gave the hoped for response. Since the inception of the LVEDC and the expansion of the GLVC of Commerce there has been tension.
Both groups claim credit for every job that comes to the Valley, neither takes blame when they leave.

D. Cunningham has an MO and that is to take care of his people and these were not his people. He needs to prepare for guys like Frank Kane amongst others. When Scott Ott wins people like Kane and Muller are history in the county.

Also he is married into the Chamber brotherhood. Iannelli has longed for some of the hotel tax gold for years. Why the Hell do you think he kissed up to Angle.

So Cunningham will keep it afloat enough to keep his and his buddies jobs but let it shrink enough to make the case e for Iannelli's Chamber cash grab.

Of course the nuclear option that has been mentioned is, DC will engineer the demise of LVEDC to be timed with Ianellies retirement and then Cunningham will be the new Chamber president with no pesky LVEDC.

We shall see but it isn't that hard when you know the players involved.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Though I've relentlessly tormented him, I think Pete Reinke was very good for the LVEDC and more importantly, the Lehigh Valley. He will be missed. It also comes at a bad time. There will soon be two new County Execs. They may not be able to redirect the hotel tax, but could probably propose ordinances eliminating it.

Anonymous said...

The elimination may not be warranted but the better us of it definitely. How that useless
Tourism bureau still sucks down cash is amazing. The guy "working" there has been sucking off the tit for years. Second only to Greco at LANTA.


End the Gravy Train and demand results especially in Northampton County. If the Chamber members want to pay big dollars for showmanship that is their business but no more public money for these loafers.

Anonymous said...

Hey,summer hours, like you said.
( When Scott Ott wins, pigs fly. Literally. Inbound and departing!)

Anonymous said...

I'm so shocked that this was handled so poorly. Shocked I say.

Anonymous said...

Don was perfect after Phil. Perfect.

Anonymous said...

It's time for the LVEDC to be closed. This is just a feeding trough, another bridge commission. Those employed by LVEDC are simply stealing their compensation. This is ridiculous. Don's political career was derailed by a guy with five cents in his campaign. Now, Don's just stealing outright as payback. Politicians and former politicians are lower forms of life than child rapists.

Uncle Remus said...

this from the bozo who sold a landfill and cost the bethlum millions.

promote to deputy animal control officer of glendon

Anonymous said...

Pete Renke was let go?? Amazing.. he is one of the best seasoned economic development professionals in the State. Very disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. You must have to be under 40 to work there now...

Anonymous said...

I agree with the author's comments on Pete. I always found him to be an honest and thoughtful guy.

As for eliminating the LVEDC, the LVEDC has done a lot of good with the SBA 504 loans. Its a great program that helps start ups/small businesses get low interest long term loans to start new business and bring jobs to the Valley. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Everyone can now scream at me about "corporate welfare" but this is a program that helps small businesses and the loans are paid back. I have seen it work.

Anonymous said...

Expect Donny to convince his kiss ass board to approve a fat raise for him with the savings from stabbing his staff in the back. He is the biggest prima dona in the valley.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has been involved in economic development in any part of the Lehigh Valley knows that Pete, although seemingly a nice guy, should have been let go. I would bet that none of these responses above were from people who ever actually worked with Pete. Pete is all about looking busy but not accomplishing much. Bernie, you thought he should have had the top job which is a joke. But you get sucked in because he gives you attention and he's fun to talk to. Talk to anyone who worked with him on a project. He is ineffectual and at times duplicitous. This move by Cunningham is proof positive that he's taking LVEDC in a better direction.

Anonymous said...

It the termination didn't have anything to do with performance, how come they only got three days notice. When Melnick left he was given plenty of time and they even brought him back as a consultant.

I guess Don C is running out of cliches to use. How many different directions are there to go in anyway? Anon 12-18 hit the nail right on the head.

Anonymous said...

You never know Hector Nemes and his ever so popular sidekick Lucy could be in there....oh no thats right she is running John Browns campaign against Callahan!!!! LMAO

Anonymous said...

YES time to shut it down.

Too many chiefs around the cities and counties and not enough hands on staff to work with small business units.

LVEDC has too many activists doing surveys of the obvious needs.

LVEDC has become a home for political hanger ons.

Anonymous said...

Why the Chamber, the Visitors Bureau and LVEDC are separate is beyond me.

We can waste time, effort and money with the best of them.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

Excellent photo. Says it all.

Anonymous said...

Who is John Brown?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Interesting. You must have to be under 40 to work there now"

With the exception of John Kingsley, I don't think the remainder has been there for more than two years.

Anonymous said...

Will Don offer Gregory a job??

Anonymous said...

10:20 hE IS THE mAYOR OF bANGOR RUNNING AGAINST cALLAHAN FOR cOUNTY eXEC

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bernie, you thought he should have had the top job which is a joke. But you get sucked in because he gives you attention and he's fun to talk to. Talk to anyone who worked with him on a project. He is ineffectual and at times duplicitous. "

I believe I have only ever had one private conversation with Reinke. I have no idea whether he is fun to talk to and i don't play golf. But I have talked to a few people who worked with Reinke on several projects, and they tell me he works very hard and is effective. I know who they are and you are anonymous.

Even if this is the right move, which I doubt, it was handled very poorly.

Anonymous said...

Eh, this assumes Cunningham knows what he's doing.

He's never managed and managed is the important word here, an organization before, namely a private one where's he's got to do the daily grind.

The city, general services and the county is largely run by department heads and staff. Don now has to be in the office for at least 3 out of the 5 days of the work week now.

LVEDC remains dysfunctional because it's not a public agency, doesn't answer to anybody and the decision makers are immune to scrutiny from the public.

I've never understood why both counties don't take control of LVEDC and make it into what they want it to be. LVEDC is largely using county money.

Anonymous said...

John Brown is the R candidate for NorCo Exec. He's been criticized for wasting $7K of taxpayer money. John Callahan is the D candidate for NorCo Exec. He's gotten a pass for wasting millions and lying about providing tax relief from casino dough. Charlie Dent called John's record a sham and said pay-to-play was the way business was conducted in Callahan's Bethlehem. Chalie warned us that John's a complete lying mess. When John is run out of office for some tawdry thing he's has a history of doing, he'll jump into the hammock at LVEDC and only get out of it to play golf. Fore!

Anonymous said...

"Each of these employees have considerable skills and experience and I’m confident that in the right role that they can be an asset to other organizations or companies in the Lehigh Valley or beyond."

Cunningham you have to be kidding me. This is the most demeaning statement I have ever seen issued. Pete has forgot more about economic development than is in your smiling two faced head. Don't know about the other two, but you'll live to regret this statement. I can't believe the Board of Directors ever approved this comment.

Anonymous said...

Don is and continues to be one of the best know nothing bullshiters in the Lehigh Valley. Only surpassed by Tony Ianelli. They make a great team.

Anonymous said...

Don had a 2:00 PM tee time and got the memo out under heavy pressure to hit a few at the driving range, first. I hear he's a wizard with his foot wedge. Summer hours! Fore!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Don does not golf, dude.

Anonymous said...

Din is not a golfer, busllhiter yes, golfer no.

Anonymous said...

Gambling was once illegal now states take in millions. Legalize and tax marijuana and free up the police to fight real crimes.

Towelie

Anonymous said...

Blah, blah, blah...Why do these entities even exist in the first place?

Scott Armstrong

Bernie O'Hare said...

Why do any of us exist, Scott? Why is there something rather than nothing at all? Just be sure to have a clean towel on hand wherever you go. ... Wanna' get high?

Anonymous said...

This is were Scott and I agree. Most of these organizations are just retirement homes for politicians and the connected.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I deleted a comment from the now irrelevant and totally marginalized Blog Mentor, who can go back now to rolling on the floor, foaming at the mouth.

Anonymous said...

A great executive surrounds himself with smart, skilled people who can make him look good by actually accomplishing something. If you surroujnd yourself with employees who have "considerable skills and experience" you should come out looking good.

Let's see who replaces the considerably skilled people? Bets anyone???

Anonymous said...

The truth about Scott hurts. He's full of shit.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You lost any notion of what is true and what is not long ago, as you pursue hateful vendettas about just about everyone over next to nothing. I pity your kid. Now go back to rolling on the floor,foaming at the mouth, you little weasel.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

People I don't even know really loath me. The hate destroys them and makes them what they are. Honestly I feel sorry for them.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

My bet is the next hire is young, female and attractive. And that she comes from somewhere close by. And has some ability to handle herself in the public, in front of electeds. Longenbach, Sywensky, Karner, Vossough, Woodward, Whalen, Martinez, Collins... Oh wait, most of them have their own opinions...not sure he can handle that.

Anonymous said...

Sywensky Rocks! She represents NorCo well.

Anonymous said...

Don doesn't golf. He's learning guitar. The first days are always embarrassing when one attempts a musical instrument. Keep practicing, Don. You'll get better if you work hard.

Anonymous said...

Does the Lehigh Valley really need the LVEDC?

It exists because both counties don't care enough about it to make it better or to improve it. It's just innocuous enough.

The only businesses that need LVEDC are the ones that need the handouts. They need the loans, the grants, the local political muscle for things like KOZ and TIF to remove the local obstacles and get the money or the approvals. Remember, all development is good. Don Cunningham isn't CEO because outside interests will like the guy. He's there to convince and persuade local officials.

Developers who don't need the public teat don't use LVEDC.

In a way, the counties have set up LVEDC to grease their own skids.

You'll see the demonstration of this soon. If Fed Ex truly wants that airport land as reported and it requires tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements, you're going to see not only LVEDC out there floating a massive TIF idea but also lobbying Penndot for millions of dollars in taxpayer money for their project they don't have.

You'll see Don and Tony out at every township and county meeting threatening that it's an exploding offer and we just have to do it.

Anonymous said...

Don and Tony deserve each other. Two of the biggest lest talented highest paid blowhards in the Valley.

Anonymous said...

The Don of the Valley has been replaced by Johnny Casino.

Anonymous said...

How much did Scott Ott have in his campaign coffers when he ruined Don's political career? Was it ten or fifteen dollars? Don was going to be guv. Whahappened? If the gevernor-to-be couldn't hold serve against a nut with couch change, he ought to be a real frickin whiz at this job. The incompetent always seem to get promoted out. Donn is the new Glenn Reibman. His name should for ever more be spelled with Ns, a right previously reserved for only the lowest of political sleaze.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Scott Ott nearly defeated Cunningham bc of the political mood in the country at that time. That pendulum has swung the other way.

Let me tell you the difference between Scott and Don. I wrote a piece that was somewhat unflattering to Ott but gave him an opportunity to chime in with his own opinion in a separate article. He ignored me while flunkies, which probably include you, engaged in personal attacks.

This piece is somewhat unflattering to Don. I did not contact him bc it was too late in the day. But he contacted me, sent me a statement and spoke with me on the phone.

It's called transparency. One has it, the other does not. I don't have much respect for Ott. He is condescending and a bit of a phony. I hope LC voters see thru him.

Anonymous said...

" I don't have much respect for Ott. He is condescending and a bit of a phony. I hope LC voters see thru him."

Bernie, that could easily be said of Muller and is the same reason I will not be voting for him.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Understood.

Anonymous said...

So the LVEDC approves DC's statement indicating "Each of these employees have considerable skills and experience and I’m confident that in the right role that they can be an asset to other organizations or companies in the Lehigh Valley or beyond."

Failure to manage is what I say. He let go talent that the taxpayers of both counties have paid for through training and experience. Stupid and costly move. Why not have these talented people help him move the LVEDC in the direction he wants? Oh, that is called supervision and staff motivation. Wondering how many times DC called these people into a room and attempted to constructively redirect their efforts? I bet not too many, instead, he just fires them.