Business booming in Lehigh Valley, officials say

Published: Aug 13 2013 05:06:34 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 13 2013 06:48:18 PM EDT

In the past few days alone, hundreds of new jobs have been announced as coming to the Lehigh Valley.

People who work closely with big business said there are many variables, including location.

Ocean Spray, Coca-Cola, Kraft, and even Credit Safe are new or expanded businesses calling the Lehigh Valley home.

“In real estate, it's always location, location, location," said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation. "But in business development, you need more than location. You need quality workforce. You need cooperative government with good cost structures. It's more cost competitive than neighboring states.”

Cunningham said he is noticing a shift in the type of companies moving in. He said more food and beverage manufacturing companies are in the area because many can reach 65 percent of their distribution centers in a day's drive.

"The Lehigh Valley region has shifted from the days of being big industrial producers of steel and trucks, such as in Bethlehem Steel and Mack Trucks, to now we make the products that a lot of America consumes," said Cunningham.

Business professionals aren't the only people taking notice in the area.

"The governor in the state has said to us regularly that the Lehigh Valley is almost half of the activity they are dealing with on a daily basis."

People recruiting business said the land is filling up quickly, but it's getting easier to convince people the Lehigh Valley is the place to be because success begets success.

“When an Ocean Spray comes, that becomes more attractive for a Bimbo," added Cunningham. "When Coca-Cola decides to make all of its water-based products from Maine to North Carolina here, then that becomes more appealing for Kraft to expand, or Nestle.”

Cunningham admitted that improving area roads will be key to keeping the business boom going. So will having a increased freight rail service.