Monthly Archives: February 2013
Tomorrow, Renew Lehigh Valley will be partnering with the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium (LVRC) to present the third annual State of the Lehigh Valley: Community Trends at a Glance report at a luncheon event at Iaccoca Hall on Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Campus.
The view of the entire Lehigh Valley from the Wood Dining Room will provide an appropriate backdrop as the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium unveils their report of the successes and struggles of the region from the perspective of civic engagement, economic growth, and health, with a special focus on the environment and environmental sustainability. The LVRC brings together faculty members from Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) institutions with diverse and interdisciplinary expertise to focus on regional topics. These institutions include Cedar Crest College, DeSales University, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Moravian College, and Muhlenberg College, along with affiliate members Northampton Community College and Lehigh Carbon Community College.
Co-presenting the event is Renew Lehigh Valley, which since 2007 has been a nonprofit advocate for smart growth in the Lehigh Valley, revitalizing our core communities, preserving open space, and creating an economically and environmentally sustainable foundation for the region’s growth.
This will be an opportunity to discuss the issues that are facing the Lehigh Valley, but an even better opportunity to organize action in planning its future. Forefront in our minds this year will be Envision Lehigh Valley, a public outreach effort designed to engage the citizens of Northampton and Lehigh Counties to create a truly sustainable Lehigh Valley. The project received a three year, $3.4 million Sustainable Communities grant and will conclude at year end 2014. In the span of that time, partnerships throughout the Lehigh Valley will work together to produce comprehensive plans to address economic development, fresh food access, employment and housing balance, as well as transportation.
Highmark Blue Shield is once again the Presenting Sponsor of the event. Thanks go out to our other sponsors Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, Lehigh University’s Social Science Research Center, Capital Blue Cross, PPL, St. Luke’s University Health Center, Spillman Farmer Architects, Susquehanna Bank, and Just Born, Inc.
Registration and buffet will open at 11:00am with a poster session displaying data about the Lehigh Valley. The event will kick off at 12:00pm with highlights from the State of the Lehigh Valley report, followed by a few leading community members who will speak to their work in relation to the report’s findings. Registration is $35 and can be completed right at the event. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet with fellow community leaders and take action to address the needs of the Lehigh Valley.
If you’re planning on attending the event, be sure to use #SLVR when you tweet about the report and speeches. There will also be an opportunity for community discussion where the audience can provide feedback on the report as well as their ideas and visions for the Lehigh Valley. For more information on the event as well as the EnvisionLV project, head to http://renewlv.com/. If you would like to see the report, it will be published in PDF format at renewlv.com and lehighvalleyresearch.org on March 1st.
While sustainability is usually associated with nonprofit organizations and government planning, corporations have begun to take sustainability seriously and are reporting their progress to their shareholders.
These Corporate Sustainability Reports (or CSRs) are popping up on the websites of major companies like Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Coca Cola, Nike, GE, UPS and Nokia. These reports can include data on carbon disclosures, emissions, water usage and challenges in implementing sustainable growth policies.
CSRs should be transparent and authentic, as they are telling their customers and stakeholders what they are doing to help people, the planet and the economy. Data should be measured comparatively and the corporation should provide a baseline for the statistics that they provide. Sections can include balancing short and long term profitability, management of economic and environmental issues, risks and opportunities.
If you’d like to read some real reports, here is a list from Triple Pundit that ranks the top 10 sustainability reports from the past year. Does your company produce a sustainability report? Will it in the future? Hopefully at least one of these answers is yes!
Last week we told you a little bit about the huge population growth expected to hit the Lehigh Valley within the next thirty years. We broke it down by county, but now the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission has a Profile and Trends report that can show you how much your municipality is expected to grow by 2040.
If you go to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s website, http://www.lvpc.org, click ‘Enter the Site,’ choose ‘Publications’ on the left side of the page and select the Profile and Trends report, you’ll find the unique histories of Lehigh Valley municipalities, average daily mileage for residents, property values, birth rates, death rates and what we were talking about before – local population percentages (if that’s all you’re looking for, head straight to page 23).
Do you live in North Whitehall? Your local population right now is around 15,703…in 2040, it’s projected to be over 26,000!
Maybe you live in Palmer Township, where the population is now around 17,000 and in thirty years, it will be over 27,000.
Want to see how big your community is going to get? Head over to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s website or look at the chart below where you can find population growth in municipalities from Alburtis to Wind Gap.
The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission has completed a study to predict the growth of the Lehigh Valley over the next thirty years. The Reader’s Digest version would say that there are A LOT of people coming to the region. Our population is projected to add another 226,722 people by 2040. The total population will be 873,954 in the LV at that time.
Using 2010 census data, the Planning Commission is able to detect trends in the growth patterns of Lehigh and Northampton counties and is able to break them down by age group to show specifically where we’ll be growing. It’s no secret that the baby boomer generation is aging, and that is shown clearly in the report. The largest growing age demographic will be the 75 and over crowd, who will add 54,265 people to their ranks. Coming second in growth rate are the 70-74 year olds, growing by 20,946.
As much as the elderly seem to love the Lehigh Valley, the young are leaving the region. One of the largest exits from the area is from 20-24 year old males with college degrees who lived here when they were pursuing their education and then moved away for jobs or other opportunities upon graduation.
Countering this trend is the influx of those in their later twenties, who often move to the region when they begin to start a family. As far as starting families goes, birth rates in Northampton County are expected to top the state average for every 5 year range that was studied. Lehigh County’s will stay closer to the state average or below.
Northampton County will also grow at a higher rate of 11.9 percent compared to Lehigh County’s 11.5 percent. The Planning Commission predicts that this is because of Northampton County’s proximity to New Jersey and New York as more employees from those states choose to live in Pennsylvania.
So, what do you think of all of this population growth? If you’ve got ideas or opinions on how the Lehigh Valley can better prepare or improve its existing stature, visit http://www.envisionlehighvalley.com and share your feedback or take one of the surveys about economic development, fresh food access, transportation and job/housing balance. With the massive growth in our region, we have to plan ahead so that residents, new and old, will have access to jobs, transportation, housing and food. People are flocking to the Lehigh Valley for a reason, let’s plan ahead to keep it great.
Yesterday, Governor Tom Corbett unveiled his budget proposal which will inevitably be tinkered and toyed with until the General Assembly passes their final version in the end of June, but it made clear the hopes and dreams of Governor Corbett in the coming fiscal year.
Last year, Corbett proposed major cuts to education and paid for it with his approval rating. He hasn’t made the same mistake this year. Corbett proposed a 1.7 percent increase to basic education funding and promised $1.6 billion to higher education. However, these funding increases are not yet a foregone conclusion. The spending increase is tied to several other reform projects that Corbett has his eye on. Education funding will be tied to the privatization of state liquor stores, a greatly debated issue in the past few years. Without this reform, budget officials say that major cuts are inevitable. Public schools would be forced to choose between increasing their taxes, cutting their programs or an unfortunate combination of the two.
Funding for transportation will also be increased in a similar deal. Over the next five years, $5.3 billion is to be invested in transit with $510 million immediately going to highway and bridge projects if the legislature votes to reform the state pension system. The proposed reform would do nothing to reduce the benefits that current employees have already paid, but the future of their plan would switch to a 401(k) program in which they allocate 6.25 percent of their salary to their retirement benefits. New state employees would enter the pension system with this program in place.
New employees to the state may be sparse though; Corbett’s budget includes the elimination of 900 positions, including 400 layoffs. Most of these staff reductions will come from the Department of General Services, the Health Department and Public Welfare. In Human Services news, Corbett has proposed $6.1 million to transition patients at state facilities to community placements.
Despite the spending increases, this budget proposal is also business friendly. It eliminates the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax, reduces the Corporate Net Income Tax and repeals the Corporate Loan Tax. Small businesses certainly weren’t left out of business benefits either. They are now eligible to a $5,000 tax deduction for start-up businesses and access to a new team within the Department of Community and Economic Development that will provide advice on how to best utilize state and local incentives to increase the success rate of new businesses. The Pennsylvania Business Development Authority will consolidate eight loan programs into one large pool of $1.1 billion loan funds.
The Republicans control both the state house and senate, but it is unlikely that Corbett will get everything that he asked for in this proposal. However, it will certainly shape the debate in the coming months before the 2012-2013 fiscal year expires.