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One-cent regional sales tax would help attract employers to Lehigh Valley

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), using the data from Garner Economics LLC, a consulting firm hired to help create an economic development strategy, is suggesting a regional one-cent sales tax. The money raised from the sales tax would go directly to the LVEDC, which currently operates with a $2 million budget; funded by a local hotel tax and membership fees from corporate sponsors.

The additional penny tax could net the organization an additional $33 million per year. Even a half-cent tax would generate an extra $16 million and strictly be used for regional economic development. .

The main investment would be on items that would help attract bigger employers to the area: workforce development, fixing transportation issues, improving key component that would allow the Valley to compete with larger metro areas for business

The Garner report, titled " A Blueprint for Success: A Sustainable Economic Development Strategy for the Lehigh Valley", recommends improving the workforce development strategy. Upgrading the Lehigh Valley International Airport (LVIA); by attracting larger carriers, increasing the number of routes and trips to larger cities, while reducing the flight costs. Also a fund could be established to sweeten and help close deals with perspective employers.

In addition, the report further suggests improving high school programs for job training, giving students a chance to finish high school with a year or two of college credits, establishing a pharmacy school in the area, and subsidizing the LVIA flights to make the price of tickets cheaper.