Gregory Farrington, Lehigh president, surveyed the spectacular view of the Lehigh Valley out the Wood Dining Room window and told the assembled gathering of community and business leaders: “Welcome to Mountain Top. If you squint just a little bit, it looks a lot like Silicon Valley.”
The future of the Lehigh Valley looks even brighter, thanks to a partnership between Lehigh’s Office of Government Relations, Team Pennsylvania Foundation, and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).
Farrington invoked the image of California’s bustling high-tech center at a recent breakfast meeting announcing that Bill Michelerya, associate vice president for government relations, and Vito Gallo, assistant vice president for state relations, had been named Team Pennsylvania Foundation Points of Contact. Also named was Ray Suhocki, president and chief operating officer of the LVEDC.
Team Pennsylvania Foundation
is a dynamic public/private partnership that has facilitated innovative projects and programs to improve the quality of life of all Pennsylvania citizens for more than five years. The foundation accomplishes much of its most important work through its Ambassador Program, which is a statewide network of nearly 800 dedicated volunteers who serve as emissaries for Pennsylvania.
The foundation has recently begun the Point of Contract initiative to ensure that the Ambassador Program fits the needs of specific geographic regions. These important volunteers are charged with designing and executing regional events, and working with foundation leadership to develop, plan, promote, and attend events that highlight and introduce foundation projects and programs into their respective areas.
Michelerya, who moderated the recent breakfast meeting, believes there is much to be gained by working with the Team Pennsylvania Foundation.
“Companies thinking of locating here need to know about the incredible resources—the intellectual capital, the research facilities, the new high-tech start-ups,” he says. “In addition, having new companies locate in our area provides great opportunities for our students—internships while they are in school and job opportunities upon graduation.”
“Points of Contact are the kind of proactive volunteers our region needs,” adds Gallo. “I feel good knowing that I can now help to make the Ambassador Program and this partnership an even more powerful driver of economic development.”
Farrington’s message at the breakfast underscored his optimism for the future of the region, the important role universities must play for a region to thrive, and the significant contribution that Team Pennsylvania makes in bringing community and business leaders together.
“Universities are key to economic development,” he said. “Areas that understand this—Silicon Valley, Boston, Chapel Hill—manage to develop strong partnerships between universities; development agencies, government and business, and they have seen miraculous growth.”
-- Andrew Stanten