Early education took center stage at an event in Allentown on Thursday.

Dozens of business and education leaders gathered at Coca-Cola Park for the 2013 Early Learning Business Breakfast.

Attendees heard from experts about the importance of investing in pre-school programs.

Advocates said students who participate in quality pre-K programs are more likely to graduate and less likely to commit crimes. Investing in these programs now, they said, will lead to a more prepared work-force 15 years down the road. 

"If we want our students and our future employees to be as well-educated and able to compete across the world, from an education and economic standpoint, we have to start early. It's the best investment we can make," said Jane Ervin, CEO, Community Services for Children.

Pa. Sen. Pat Browne and Allentown police Chief Roger MacLean also spoke at the event.