Monday, May 09, 2016

Cunningham: Manufacturing Alive and Well in Lehigh Valley



Whether Democrat or Republican, Northampton County Council has historically been a very harsh critic of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC). They have long complained that Northampton County is Lehigh's ugly stepsister, and is too often overlooked by LVEDC when it comes to economic development. LVEDC, which is funded with hotel tax dollars from both counties, has also been slammed over the years for its complete lack of transparency and secretiveness. Has Don Cunningham, Lehigh County's former Executive and Bethlehem's former Mayor, turned things around now that he is at the helm?  His nuts and bolts report to Council, full of details on job creation and retention here in Northampton County, is perhaps LVEDC's most effective explanation ever to Northampton County.

Cunningham explained that LVEDC  is the "regional marketing entity" funded by both counties and the largest employers within the Lehigh Valley. Much of what it does is designed to attract business to the Lehigh Valley without regard to where the business is going. The Valley has experienced significant growth, as evidenced by  a $35.4 billion GDP. This is larger than Vermont and 94 countries. Site Selection Magazine, which relies on hard empirical data, identifies the Lehigh Valley as the top performing area for economic development in the northeastern United States.

The Lehigh Valley is experiencing international growth. Out of 19 major projects last year, nine were international. . Northampton County's include Inditex (Spain), a clothing distributor located in Forks Tp; Defense and Aerospace contractor MBD - Safran (France), operating in Lower Nazareth; Primark Stores (Ireland), a clothing distributor in Bethlehem; Electronics company Ricoh (Japan), established in Hanover Tp;  and Norac, a French-based bakery coming to Forks Tp.

The food and beverage business is booming, claims Cunningham. "It started in the Macungies, but we've seen a significant movement of food processing into Northampton County. In fact, in the last 12-18 months, the pendulum of development in the Lehigh Valley has really swung towards Northampton County."

Cunningham said that, unlike 20-25 years ago, the local economy is much more diverse. "We no longer have all of our eggs in one basket." It is instead balanced over several sectors: Finance and real estate ($5.24B); Business services ($5.01B); Manufacturing ($4.95B); Education and health care ($4.84B); Retail ($2.2B); Transportation and warehousing ($1.61B); Information ($1.53B); and Arts and entertainment ($1.36B).

There are fewer jobs in manufacturing because of automation and technology, "but the reality is that the Lehigh Valley is the 60th largest market for manufacturing in the United States," even though the Lehigh valley is not the 60th largest population base in the country.

"We're swinging well above our weight class in manufacturing," he observed. He added that the typical manufacturer these days employs 20-75 people in 20,000-80,000 sq ft. The work is heavily automated, and is growing because of proximity to New York and Philadelphia, and lower cost of production.

"It's a misnomer than many people believe that manufacturing is somehow dead here. It's quite the opposite." Though the warehouse industry attracts headlines, manufacturing is three times larger.

"The old manufacturing was everyone go down to the Bethlehem Steel," said Seth Vaughn. Cunningham stressed that it is now important for people to attend vocational and technical schools. "We are nearly at full employment in the skilled occupations," he said. "These smaller manufacturers require a higher level of skill than when my father worked at Bethlehem Steel.... Today the shop floor is highly automated, highly technical."

Hayden Phillips remarked that many people confuse small manufacturers with warehouses because they see tractor trailers and loading docks.

Cunningham has heard Northampton County's complaints, and has also embarked on marketing very specific locations within the Lehigh Valley. He agrees that different regions within the Lehigh Valley have their own attractive assets. In Allentown, it would be the NIZ.  Bethlehem has two vibrant downtowns and has its own share of tax incentives. Easton is a river community that with a growing artist and restaurant scene. The slate belt has a large inventory of available commercial properties with fast and easy access to both Routes 33 and 80.

Cunningham has had brochures and sub-websites made up for each of these regions as well as Youtube videos highlighting the strengths of each specific community.along with the region as a whole.

He then ticked off some of the areas within the County that are experiencing job growth. South Bethlehem leads the field. Cunningham was Mayor in Bethlehem when the Steel company ceased operations. "If you would have told me 18 years ago that 80% of that land would be spoken for and re-used, I would have said you were crazy.," he remarked. But a former brownfield site is booming with job creation.

Zulily is an international e-commerce site, and its East coast operations are in Northampton County, along with 1,200 jobs. He also mentioned Curtis-Wright, which moved its operations into Bethlehem from New Jersey. REEB Millwork is a Lehigh Valley company that was persuaded to stay here after it outgrew its site in Fountain Hill. Tyber Medical is a start-up. "We helped fund their entry into the market in Northampton County," noted Cunningham.

In addition to the development in South Bethlehem, Cunningham pointed to expansions by C and S Wholesale Grocers (500 new jobs) and the retention of Guardian Life Insurance in Hanover Township (1,000 jobs retained)

LVEDC is also working on the redevelopment of brownfields like the Simon Silk Mill (Easton), Easton Public Market and GKEDC Industrial Park in Wind Gap.

Cunningham also highlighted the Fed Ex hub, which will be able to process 70,000 packages per hour and serve as a magnet for other retailers in the Lehigh Valley, seeking a means to quicker delivery.

Three hundred of the 800-acre Chrin site, located in the northern portion of Palmer Township, has been purchased. That is warehouse space, but the remaining 500 acres will go to manufacturing, office, hotels and other commercial uses.

Will an inland port in South Bethlehem lead to an explosion of warehouses? Cunningham noted that an inland port designation at the Norfolk-Southern terminal has yet to be decided. Something coming off a ship in Newark must first go by rail to an inland port near Carlisle, after which it is trucked back to the Lehigh Valley. Having an inland port designation in South Bethlehem would take those trucks off the road and would create more efficiency for local business.

Cunningham notes that several communities, including Binghamton in New York,are vying for an inland port designation. He added that e-commerce, which is growing 20% each year, will smile on the community that gets this designation.

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

Donny boy is a pro. he knows the game as well as most. There are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics. Play to the3 audience and you will feel the love.

Anonymous said...

Great presentation. Now where is the comparison to Lehigh County? Lehigh County is reaping the whirlwind when it comes to creating jobs. They are way ahead of Northampton County in job creation. Don presented Northampton council with information about the economic situation in Northampton County but it's double that in Lehigh over the same time frame. It's really easy to snow Council. Brown has been doing it for several years now. Northampton County had a County Development Corporation that really produced and it outproduced Lehigh County. It was abandoned during the Reibman Administration and Northampton county has been paying the price ever since. Those are the real facts. Warehouses are outproducing jobs in Northampton County. Now have Cunningham compare the two Counties.

Anonymous said...

Oh let me also add, in your own story, you sight 19 major companies that have located in the Lehigh Valley and site only five of those 19 were located in Northampton County. This further proves my point. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

How aboutthat......the FEDEX Hub is also in Lehigh County. Damn if tricky Don isn't right. Northampton County we love you. Keep funding the LVEDC because they bring lots of your money and jobs to Lehigh County. Means we pay less taxes.

Anonymous said...

Real economic development will take place in Nazareth. Just get rid of those apartments and make Bernie homeless. Nazareth don't need no stinkin blogger.

Anonymous said...

It should be clear to everyone, the Lehigh Valley is growing at a very rapid pace. You don't need Cunningham-types to show you evidence, but that's his job. The evidence is all around us. Some of it good, other not.

Not intending to discredit Mr. Cunningham, Mr. Ianelli, or any other LV promoter, but we must consider, much of the Lehigh Valley gains are because we are the next best option to doing business in New York and New Jersey! Those states have made themselves less attractive because of increased government me, and taxes. We have become the "item" now. Even Connecticut, to the North, has had its day.

In time, the Lehigh Valley COULD suffer the same fate. Fame is fleeting . . .

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

One also does have to consider the wages/salaries paid to employees in 2016 if cost-of-living adjusted and also inflation-adjusted to what was paid to employees in 1970.

Are people in the Lehigh Valley really better-off than their parents or grandparents were here 46 years ago?

Anonymous said...

Corrections to above . . .

Make that increased government REGULATIONS, not "me!"

So then, yes, these new business additions are coming IN. They are also running OUT from someplace else!

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

In 1986, 30 years ago, the first non-Allentown Mack assembly plant was opened in Winnsboro, South Carolina. Several friends of mine moved to Winnsboro then, none have returned, and a few I keep track of still live in South Carolina.

In 2009/2010, not so long ago, Mack World Headquarters was vacated for Greensboro, North Carolina. A few people went to NC, but most remained here looking to rebuild their lives.

Just last December, at the Macungie Plant, the last Mack manufacturing entity in the area (besides the museum), a 20% layoff was announced. Of course today, the Mack of Allentown isn't the same company, it's a division of Volvo, a Swedish company, a foreign company that uses the United States as a less-expensive place to manufacture for its North American market.

Now, what were the reasons for Mack leaving the Lehigh Valley, and what has been done to change the business climate here ? Answer those questions and change the climate, and then measure the economic growth.

Scott Armstrong said...

Seems to me these various authorities and commissions are just show jobs for former and wanna be politicians. We should ask whether as tax payers these entities are worth the cost of funding them. Like many grant receiving organization, their main purpose is to continue existing. They spend time proving their worth but what do they really accomplish?

Anonymous said...

It's about time that the much maligned LVEDC staff received some of the credit for the growth the Lehigh Valley is experiencing. For years they were tarred with the unfair criticisms set forth by politicians looking to get some newspaper exposure. Mr. Cunningham is the first CEO who knows how to present a message that has been waiting to be properly told. Kudos to him and his staff.

Anonymous said...

Don, is that you?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Oh let me also add, in your own story, you sight 19 major companies that have located in the Lehigh Valley and site only five of those 19 were located in Northampton County. This further proves my point. Thank you."

I can't help those of you who don't know how to read. I mentioned that 9 of 19 new projects are international. I list every one of the international projects in NC, and the power point includes the other four in Lehigh. I listed the NC international businesses. The Power point lists the others, which are in Lehigh. It only lists the international companies, but lists them all.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Donny boy is a pro. he knows the game as well as most. There are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics. Play to the3 audience and you will feel the love."

If you have something substantive to say, then say it. Otherwise you are wasting everyone's time.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Seems to me these various authorities and commissions are just show jobs for former and wanna be politicians. We should ask whether as tax payers these entities are worth the cost of funding them."

Translation: I hate Don Cunningham bc he is a Democrat. You have just been presented with a detailed report about economic development, showing exactly what is going on, and you talk of ending the one organization that seems to be doing something. You really have to drop your partisan bias, Scott. Don is practically a R anyway.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's about time that the much maligned LVEDC staff received some of the credit for the growth the Lehigh Valley is experiencing. For years they were tarred with the unfair criticisms set forth by politicians looking to get some newspaper exposure. Mr. Cunningham is the first CEO who knows how to present a message that has been waiting to be properly told. Kudos to him and his staff."

Much of the criticism directed at LVEDC has been very fair. It has been out-of-touch and has lacked transparency. And in Cunningham's first report, he did not do well. But unlike his predecessors, he listened and did something. He turned LVEDC around and I like what is going on there now. I think NC should not fill its economic director spot and evaluate whether one is needed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

6:19, One point that needs to be made at the onset is that, just as no lawyer should do most of his work for just one client, no community should rely on just one business. It was a mistake for Bethlehem to rely on the steel and for Allentown to rely on Mack. It is much better for each community to have numerous businesses in different sectors.

I am sure Mack relocated to the south bc taxes are lower and labor is cheaper. So we should become like Alabama? No thanks.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Are people in the Lehigh Valley really better-off than their parents or grandparents were here 46 years ago?"

Of course not, but that was not the point of the presentation. Cunningham was not there to say we have returned to the 1950s. He was there to explain what businesses are coming into the area and what his company does to spur economic development.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"the FEDEX Hub is also in Lehigh County."

The hub is almost entirely in Allen Tp, and that is where the tax dollars will go unless it decides on South Bethlehem, which actually makes more sense to me bc those roads are designed for the truck traffic.

Anonymous said...

@10:12 ". Cunningham was not there to say we have returned to the 1950s. He was there to explain what businesses are coming into the area and what his company does to spur economic development."

I do suppose minimum wage jobs are better than not having one. Especially since a minimum wage job can be coupled with government assistance paid for by the taxpayer.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't think that manufacturing, business services, finance and real estate or education and health care jobs are minimum wage. But he was not there to report on what people are getting paid. He was there to report on economic development within the last 12-18 months and did so rather effectively. Employment is very high in the LV right now, and skilled labor is at 100%.

Anonymous said...

The new jobs SUCK!!!

Anonymous said...

"He turned LVEDC around and I like what is going on there now. I think NC should not fill its economic director spot and evaluate whether one is needed."

Insider layman's translation, I like Donny he is a mancrush. I love Stoffa and he decimated the county's DCED, so I want it to stay decimated.
You are all welcome for the translation, if you are allowed to read it.

Anonymous said...

" and health care jobs are minimum wage. But he was not there to report on what people are getting paid."

Have you been a Doctors office or the hospital. The staff can barely read. All the nurses are gone and it is all obvious that minimum wage folks from McDonalds now take care of you. Also the Don doesn't want to explain the real facts of jobs and what they pay. People may realize what a BS cush job his six figure job is

Anonymous said...

"I don't think that manufacturing, business services, finance and real estate or education and health care jobs are minimum wage."

The key wording in manufacturing today is "competitiveness". Costs are kept to an absolute minimum and production is maximized to produce a lot of product at the lowest possible price. That means a lot of automation of semi-skilled and unskilled labor jobs hat have disappeared.

It also means holding down the wages of the skilled worker, as the unspoken elephant in the room are the manufactures in China, Mexico and other third-world nations that United States firms have moved their manufacturing to in order to eliminate high labor costs. Many of which are a direct result of Obamacare and other government mandates that simply do not exist in Communist China or Mexico.

So here in the United States, the minuscule mount of manufacturing that we still perform is done by a labor force that is constantly looking over their shoulder for the supervisor to walk on the floor and tell the worker "you're doing an excellent job, but the fact is that we have to be more competitive, and we just can't afford you any longer". The supervisor, by the way, isn't all that secure in their own job, as if profits aren't high enough, the number of supervisors also gets diminished, again to reduce costs and be "competitive".

Welcome to 21st Century America. But there is always a job selling Vietnamese-made shoes at the shopping center. And you wonder why people are so angry.

Anonymous said...

Forklifts are the Valleys future.
Thanks Don.

Anonymous said...

Re:fer to the the last comment on Bernie last article of this snakeoil salesman that speaketh with forked tongue??? Ooops, the tongue is not suppose to slipp in the ANUS cunnilingwist?!?!This propaganda perpetrated against the entire area colluding to dillude LVHN formally known as the Great Allentown Hospital circus sideshow feeks and geeks??

Maskerading criminal I'll behaviors as a means of commerce is about the same as the faked facts and data put to print as a water war wonderful CONsessionair comPETitors, almost like and very similar to palumpasparty favor CONsessionair comPETitors??

I seem to Re:member this same circus traveling through south st??!!!
Re:publican redd

Scott Armstrong said...

Bernie,

I don't hate Don Cunningham. I just don't think he or his commission is worth the cost to the taxpayers. That is a fair point of view and hardly worthy of a personal attack.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's not a "commission." It is not a board or an authority. It is a nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to market the LV. Cunningham just gave the best explanation I or anyone in Northampton County has ever heard from anyone at LVEDC of exactly what they are doing, and you ripped him. The conclusions is inescapable that you are driven by a partisan animus, something that I and several others have brought to your attention in the past. In his first appearance there, things were not so cheery, and I pointed out that at the time, too. He has made big changes, and they are starting to be noticed.

Scott Armstrong said...

Bernie,

So what, it is a non profit organization, where does it get its funding?

Scott Armstrong said...


I think it is safe to assume that "partner" means donor.

Government Partners

City of Allentown
City of Bethlehem
City of Easton
Lehigh County Department of Community and Economic Development
Northampton County Department of Community and Economic Development
Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development
U.S. Small Business Administration
Pennsylvania CareerLink

Bernie O'Hare said...

About half of its $2.5 MM budget comes from the hotel tax in both counties. The rest comes from the private sector. It is not a "commission" or "board" or "authority." Incidentally, it received more funding from the private sector in 2015 than in any previous year. To those of us who believe in business and competition, that's yet another indication that LVEDC is finally heading in the right direction. I realize Don Cunningham is reviled by many Rs, but that assessment is misplaced. He is practically a Republican himself.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I think it is safe to assume that "partner" means donor.

And you would be completely full of shit. If you think the cities can afford to throw money at LVEDC, you're nutz. They are usually beneficiaries of grant programs funded thru LVEDC, like the Easton Public Market. Read my comment above. The major corporations that fnd LVEDC do so bc it means more money for them. If it failed to produce, Cunningham would be out the door, as Mittman was and several other before him. You slammed the one guy who actually is making a difference, and did so simply because he is a Dem. That's sad.

Scott Armstrong said...

Bernie,

Why would Republicans revile Don Cunningham? He never came off as a left wing ideologue. He only lied when he needed to make himself look better. Case in point the court house that he could fix for, what was it, 11 million? Well like every politician he knew it wasn't true but it was a good narrative so he ran with it. They all do that. By the way, a "hotel tax" is a tax. And if LVEDC was completely privately funded I would have no grounds to complain about tax dollars being used for business development.
Want to call me a business hater now? I am call worse routinely. By the way, are left wing ideologues/ Democrat activists ever told that they are too partisan on this blog?

Scott Armstrong said...

Let me sound like a Bernie Sanders fan for a moment. Does not this thread serve to point out the pernicious connection of government and business that too often leaves the average citizen out of the loop.

Anonymous said...

Don's my favorite Lehigh Valley republican.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Scott, I am not calling you a business hater, but I am telling you that you are woefully ignorant concerning the hotel tax and its purpose. I suggest you do your homework. The hotel tax is part of a state law created at the instigation of Elmer Gates and other business captains who wanted a source of funding for a corporation that would provide economic development to the LV. The law was crafted in a way that it had to go to an entity with valley-wide impact. That removed the counties from the equation. The desire to create LVEDC is precisely why the state law was enacted. Tourism was an afterthought.

NC was more than ready to exercise the nuclear option and repeal the hotel tax. That would have caused LVEDC to come crashing down and would also make it impossible to fund tourism grants. But Cunningham has turned it around.

Cunningham reduced the size of government in LC. The workforce as at its lowest level since 1990.

He did reduce the cost of the courthouse expansion from over $80 million to about $60 million. He knocked off some of the fat, like 17' high ceilings in the courtrooms and private judicial shitters.

He's not running for anything. He is in the private sector now. He has turned LVEDC around, and more than half of it is privately funded. The half that is publicly funded has to be publicly funded unless we do away with the hotel yax altogether. You can thank Republican Elmer Gates for that trick, just like you can blame republican Senator pat browne for the NIZ.

Stop hating on people bc of their party already. It really diminishes an otherwise very astute observer. If you don't stop, I will find you in the port-a-john.

Scott Armstrong said...

Wow! Bernie, thanks for the education. I was of course totally ignorant of all the facts(as usual). Thank God you are here to set people like me(the ignorant) straight.As a result of this dialogue I am building an alter in the back yard to both Don Cunningham and the LVEDC.Thank the lord for people like Elmer who astutely facilitated the relationship of business and government to the point where they are virtually one and the same.
By the way, are someones anger issues showing?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes. I'd suggest yours are. Be honest. You had no clue why the state hotel tax was adopted here in the LV or what its real purpose is. You had no idea that LVEDC is a corporation, not some authority or government board, or that at least half of its funding is private. You had no idea that a county can simply stop sending hotel taxes to LLVEDC with no repercussions. The only thing you did know is that Cunningham is a Democrat and therefore must be bad. Do your homework next time. You may know about the school district, but you know shit about these kinds of issues. He is probably their best CEO to date, and you trashed him bc of his party.

Don't build the altar (not alter) to LVEDC or Gates. Build it to me, and keep it away from the piss bottles please. You are lucky that I am in a good mood and spoke to you. Dismissed.

Scott Armstrong said...

Again Bernie you have hit the nail on the head. I am a complete asshole. Full of shit. Totally ignorant.A Hater.And a partisan. If I missed anything let me know.

Anonymous said...

Bernie Bernie,
As I had allways said, you are the shit! Ripped a new asshole to someone that just should go crawl up dr mayo's pant leg for the screwing of allentowns youth, thats right as allentowns political administration has called the populus a cancer!?


Just read what I redd
Re:publican redd

Anonymous said...

Wow Bernie, are you off your meds? I am an old time Democrat and can tell you many people including Dem's, know Donny is a prime time BS artist and the LVEDC is just a fancy version of the NIZ. This is the rare occurrence were Scott and many Democrats are on the same page.

You have hyper love fest going on for Donny boy and that is fine but his marriage of business and government is a joke. He has jumped form job to job and always made sure his landing was soft and lucrative.

The LVEDC has done squat for Northampton County. Jobs that arrive are the result of the businesses themselves researching. They will happily enjoy a fine dinner and drink with the Don on the taxpayers dime but that is not their reason for coming here. You should honestly tell people why you are OK with the gutting of the county DCED Department. You can then also explain why when he was county executive Donny doubled Lehigh County's DCED Department. Things that make you go HMMM?

Pleas enough with the koolade drinking mancrush BS. Scott is right on this one. It ha snothing to do with politics.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I can't help those who won't read and allow themselves to be swayed by preconceived notions. I see very little evidence that he promotes the NIZ to the exclusion of everything else. His presentation pretty much made that clear. If Cunningham is sending all his time promoting the NIZ, then what the hell was he doing at the Freshpet expansion? Why was he involved in keeping Guardian here? Why was he involved in the Easton Public Market or in establishing promotions for EVERY area in the Lehigh Valley? Why would he bring 1,000 jobs to South Bethlehem? I do like Don, but like has nothing to do with it. I just don't see how anyone can objectively conclude that he is ignoring the LV outside of the NIZ. And i won't condemn him for promoting the NIZ. That's all Allentown has,and it does not appear to be enough despite the shameless promotions in The Morning Call.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Again Bernie you have hit the nail on the head. I am a complete asshole. Full of shit. Totally ignorant.A Hater.And a partisan. If I missed anything let me know."

Let me think about it. I'm sure I missed a few things.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Scott, I forgot to mention that you're ugly, too.

Anonymous said...

this asshole Cunningham does not know the salte belt is even in Northampton county

Anonymous said...

Bernie you are missing the point. You are blaming everyone for not knowing how to read, yet you may need some lessons. People of all political bents are upset over the marriage of business and politics. Whether it is the scam of the NIZ or the LVEDC, they are all just scams to get taxpayer money into certain hands. In the case of the LVEDC it is a few LV insiders like Cunningham and his handpicked crony employees.

Look if the LV business community wants to pay six figures to their pet clown Tony Ianelli that is their business. He dresses up like a Charlestown pimp and they have fun making him dance for them but its their dues and they can waste all the money they want. The problem with the Cunningham types is they suck off the public teat and make like we would all die if they didn't exist. Actually with the closing of the Steel, Donny lost more jobs in Bethlehem then he ever created. Callahan did the creating, if you want to give a pol credit, which we don't..

People are tired of bogus groups like LVEDC and the Tourism scam that gives its Director even more taxpayer money to print brochures. Enough is enough and both Democrats and Republicans are tired of these insiders living large off our backs.
Why do you think both Trump and Bernie are doing so well. Your insider buddies have been scamming us for too long. Time for them to get real jobs.

Big Boy Blue

Bernie O'Hare said...

I wrote the story yet I missed the point. What started out on Friday was LVEDC-bashing, before the story was even written,. That continued today with completely OT rants and progressed into good, old-fashioned Cunningham bashing. Now you even blame him for the steel's demise, which any rational person knows is nonsense. After doing that, you condemn any mixture of government and business. So as I understand it, a Mayor can be blamed for the steel's failure, but government should not be involved in ant attempt to keep that from happening again. Your argument is internally illogical. This story is a fact-based article about some LVEDC successes in which we all benefit. But some of you are so negative that you even reject good news, and then try disingenuously to be really talking about something else when called on your bullshit.

Anonymous said...

This story reveals the utter disdain people of all political viewpoints have for these career public trough feeders. People like Cunningham use their gift of blarney stone gab to find these sweet publically funded cheerleader jobs. They are gifted enough to convince hapless office holders that without them the local economy would tank and all jobs would never happen.

Ask the numerous unemployed and under employed in the Lehigh Valley what they think of Don's bragging. The taxpayers deserve a refund.

Scott Armstrong said...

Bernie,

I only need to look in the mirror to see that. It was fun. Today's post is great.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Scott, You're abe to laugh at yourself, which is more than most people can do. And you sign your name, unlike th anonymous coward at 4:22 who is apparently unaware that LVEDC was not even good at touting itself pre-Cunningham, and it even took him about 2 years to nail it. That commenter is also unaware just how important communication is

Patriot2 said...

I do think Cunningham is the best LVEDC head but you have to sort out what of those businesses were brought into the valley by LVEDC vs which came of their own accord. My guess is that 90% found their home thru other than LVEDC. The LVEDC report did a nice job of reporting "what is happening" but not necessarily what "they made happen". masterful presentation but perhaps without substance? Where is the first out state company to occupy NIZ or CRIZ offices or Martin Tower??

Bernie O'Hare said...

You are largely incorrect, at least as far as NC is concerned. LVEDC brought in each of the internationals. They helped Guardian stay. They helped finance the Easton Public Market. While I am sure some business came of its own accord, and for good reason, LVEDC was heavily involved in most of the new business coming into NC.

Can't you just accept good news for once?

Patriot2 said...

Certainly the valley needs a focal point for Economic development & LVEDC makes more sense than 2 counties having DCED departments trying to do the same thing. Glad to hear they played a role in most of the development. Now time for them to engage brokers to attract NYC firms to leave the high tax climate & come to the valley where NIZ/CRIZ & 3% personal income tax would be very attractive to corporate execs looking to escape Bloombergville soda & income tax haven!!!

Anonymous said...

Neither Cunnigham now nor the LVEDC ever has brought industry and jobs to the Slate Belt. The Green Knights in the Pen Argyl area and Jeff Manzi (Voltaix and Lamtech) in the Bangor Area are the job and economic developers there.

Anonymous said...

LVEDC has never been a significant factor. LVEDC administers some state & federal low interest loans available to a few of these businesses, that's about it.

Businesses locate in the valley for their own reasons, such as proximity to major markets, infrastructure, water resources, workforce, personal or historical connection to the Lehigh Valley.


Anonymous said...

I heard Don Cunningham's presentation when it was given a week ago in Bethlehem.

Mr. Cunningham pointed out that nine of the 19 companies that came to the Lehigh Valley in 2015 were recruited from abroad. Primark, for instance, is based in Ireland. A total of 667 manufacturers in the Lehigh Valley generate $4.95 billion in gross domestic product. That's just a bit bigger than the category of finance and real estate, at $5.24 billion. Retail is about $3 billion.

The Lehigh Valley has a gross domestic product greater than that of the state of Vermont (even though their populations are roughly equivalent).

At the presentation, my fingers weren't quick enough to write down the names of relocations and expansions—and the jobs that they created—but I'll give you a few examples for my town of Bethlehem.

Reeb Millwork in Bethlehem, which manufactures wood products using high-tech equipment, is spending $38 million to expand its facilities in the city and add 100 jobs. Curtiss-Wright was lured from New Jersey, which will bring 96 manufacturing jobs to Bethlehem.

New high-tech startups are being created at the Pi facility on the South Side. It may take awhile to bring these to fruition but their work is a step forward.

Bethlehem is ideally situated for distribution facilities. Primark's new facility—the size of a football field—is expected to employ 100 people by year's end.

Several distribution centers pay much more than the existing minimum wage. My newspaper clippings show that the new Walmart distribution center in Bethlehem pays 1,000 full-time employees a starting salary of $14.75 per hour plus benefits and profit sharing.

The online retailer Zulily (based in Seattle) had a job fair on Saturday to recruit 50 employees for its distribution center in Bethlehem. Starting pay is $13 per hour plus benefits. The company has been hiring additional employees each month. When all is done, Zuilly will employ 1,200 people.

Granted, the new wages for the distribution centers are not the same as unionized Bethlehem Steel workers got a decade and a half ago. But those days are gone forever and it's time people catch up with reality. We're not living in the "Leave It to Beaver" era of the 1960s. (If you think these distribution centers aren't paying enough, then call or write your legislators to insist on a $15-an-hour minimum wage.)

The global economy is far from perfect. The same thing with the local economy. They're not up to my standards either. But we have what we have. We should be glad that people such as Don Cunningham and groups such as the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. are working to improve the situation.

If you don't like what Mr. Cunningham is doing, explain your alternative. In detail. Present an economic development strategy that won't be laughed off the planet by the business community. A lot of the people who commented on this report seem to be nothing but cranks incapable of growing the economy. (If each syllable of their bitching counted as a dollar, then we might be getting somewhere.) As for Scott Armstrong, I never met him. Based on his comments here, I hope I never encounter him in the future.

Thanks, Bernie, for laying out the facts.

Frank Baran
Bethlehem

ninoshinkicker said...

I don't care what country these companies are based. Fact is that most of these jobs are not 'professional' in any way. (Having said that I believe all work is valuable and rewarding.) Can we really 'distribute' ourselves to prosperity. I love the fact, too, that so many of these companies don't even train their employees, but dump that responsibility on taxpayers in the form of the community college extensive job training programs. How hard is it for LVEDC to help sell off square miles after square mile of of former farmland and brownfileds at bargain prices?

Anonymous said...

Many of the manufacturing jobs are extremely difficult to obtain, even with advanced skills....the companies just use temp. agencies and try to avoid giving their workers benefits or a living wage for as long as they can, in some cases years.