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Dreaming Big: Anything’s Possible in the Lehigh Valley

Many companies in the Lehigh Valley have announced expansions or construction projects, adding to the area’s thriving economy.

By Livability on June 24, 2022

Lehigh Valley Economic Corporation

What do Mack Trucks, Crayola crayons, Martin Guitars and marshmallow Peeps have in common? No, it isn’t a riddle your fourth-grader made up — each of these companies are headquartered in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. 

The region’s days as a steel hub are long gone, but the area is gaining recognition for being a place where diverse companies across various sectors, including pharmaceuticals, life sciences, manufacturing, and food and beverage have made a home. 

“We’ve gone from being about steel for decades to a modern economy,” says Don Cunningham, president & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. “We have diverse and multifaceted business services. If one sector is struggling, the others prop up the local economy. It’s a much healthier and diverse model, and one that shows GDP growth year after year.” 

The region’s initiative, “Made Possible in Lehigh Valley” (in tandem with the statewide initiative, “Work Smart. Live Happy.”) encourages would-be newcomers to explore excellent employment opportunities available in the area — whether someone is just launching their career or looking to level up — plus its high quality of life. 

As an example, the cost of living in Lehigh Valley is half of what it is in New York City, which is a mere 90 minutes away. 

The area offers ample opportunities for remote and co-working office space, affordable real estate and is home to 15,000 businesses. With both small businesses and corporations, it’s the people who work there that build the local community. 

Crayola is based in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley
Lehigh Valley Economic Corporation

“We employ about 1,300 people in the valley,” says Crayola CEO Rich Wuerthele. “Our main manufacturing facility makes 13 million crayons a day — that’s 90 percent of the crayons that are used around the world annually. We have another facility that makes Silly Putty, paint, art kits and Model Magic, and a distribution center that sends things around the globe, so we’re really committed to the Lehigh Valley, and they’re committed to us.” 

“We have over 200 employees that have over 20 years with us,” Wuerthele continues, “and it’s impossible to walk through the office or shop floor without seeing someone who has been with us for that long or longer, and that’s wonderful.” 

The pandemic’s silver lining in the Lehigh Valley was that many companies took advantage of the downtime to announce expansion or construction projects. 

Mack Trucks (which recently underwent an $84 million dollar local expansion and employs about 2,500 people) is manufacturing its first fully electric garbage trucks in the same facility where it assembles trucks distributed across North America. 

In fall of 2020, Martin Guitar opened a new 200,000-square-foot distribution facility designed to increase efficiency. The company has had a presence in the Lehigh Valley for 180 years and makes guitars used by celebrities from Ed Sheeran to Eric Clapton. 

Fostering an environment that’s great for both companies and residents is a recipe for success — one the region has excelled at. Whatever your dreams may be, they’re attainable in the Lehigh Valley. 

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