Positioned in the corridor between Philadelphia and New York City, with easy access to both major metropolitan areas.
Land Area: 347 square miles
Geographic Reach: One--third of the U.S. population lives within one day’s drive and half of Canadian businesses are within 500 miles
College Town: Home to 11 colleges and universities enrolling more than 45,000 students.
The Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania is already home to more than 60 food companies and there’s still room to grow this industry, says Raymond Suhocki, president and CEO of Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp.
The region is a major transportation hub, with east--west access provided by U.S. Route 22, I--78, I--80 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Two Class 1 railroads––Norfolk Southern and Canadian Pacific––interchange in nearby BethIntermodal Terminal, a regional hub for rail freight logistics at Bethlehem Commerce Center located just a half mile from I--78. About 50 million consumers are reachable within a day’s drive of the region.
The Lehigh Valley, home to about 640,000 people, encompasses a large region, including the major cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, and it supports some 43 industrial parks housing a wide range of industries. The handful of food companies now operating here includes Nestle, Keebler, Kraft, Perrier and Just Born Confections.
One major resource of particular interest to the food industry is the region’s water quality. "This is one of the reasons Perrier is located here––not only in terms of the availability of the water, but the quality as well," says Suhocki. In fact, Coca--Cola, also located in the area, mentions this as one of the primary reasons it chose to locate here.
Numerous business resources, incentives and opportunities are available through Enterprise Zones, Keystone Opportunity Zones and Keystone Innovation Zones. The International Trade Development Program helps companies develop and implement export strategies. Team Pennsylvania Lehigh Export Network is the first point of contact for companies needing local, state or federal export assistance.
"Attractive grants, low--interest loans and other incentives are available from the state, counties and local municipalities for job creation in this industry," Suhocki says. Businesses located in Enterprise Zones can expect assistance in accessing low--interest, long--term and subordinate fixed--rate financing. In addition, companies can receive help in workforce development initiatives, property tax abatements and start--up business programs.
Suhocki adds: "Tax credits are granted for investments used to rehabilitate, expand or improve buildings, land or infrastructure through Enterprise Zones."
Tax credits amount to 20 percent of eligible project costs, or up to 30 percent if the project creates employment opportunities for low--income individuals. "Companies can claim as much as $250,000 in tax credits in any one year and have five years to claim all their credits," says Suhocki.
The region offers a lower cost of living, compared with other areas in the Northeast, says Suhocki. The proximity to New York, Philadelphia and Washington, coupled with excellent regional cultural offerings make the Lehigh Valley an attractive place to live. "It’s really an outstanding location and it’s a place where employees want to be," Suhocki says.
Coca-Cola Bottling Co.
Pure Water Attracted Coke To The Valley
Coca-Cola has a major presence in the Lehigh Valley–-with Coca-Cola Bottling Co. in Bethlehem and Coca-Cola Syrup Manufacturing Co. located in Allentown. One reason the bottling company chose to locate here is because of the high-quality water, which allows the company to use UV light disinfection as part of its multi--barrier water processing.