Rewind 26 years. My mom, dad, sister and I packed up our modest house in Bethel Park, a little suburb located just south of Pittsburgh, PA, and headed across the state to Bethlehem, PA. I was in the 6th grade.

Why the Lehigh Valley? Truthfully, back then, it had more to do with convenience than anything else.

My dad took a promotion that required him to work from headquarters in Warren, NJ. I remember looking at homes all across the region, including those closer to the office in New Jersey. But, once the numbers were crunched and quality of life assessed, my parents decided that Bethlehem was the place to call home.

There were three reasons for the decision – the schools, the reasonable cost of living and the location. Simply put, it felt like the right place to raise a family. And, with I-78 being less busy than it is today, it was an easy, 50-mile commute to the office for my dad.

26 years later

Now, 26 years later, my wife and I are raising our own family just miles from where I grew up decades ago. Why? For those same reasons.

While the Lehigh Valley has changed quite a bit since 1990, what makes the area so great hasn’t. The schools are still exceptional. The cost of living is still reasonable. And the location and lifestyle the Lehigh Valley offers is even better than it was 26 years ago. Whether it’s the sports, restaurants, festivals or other attractions, there’s more to do than ever before.

All of this is great for raising a family. It’s also great for business.

Business benefits

In 2004, I founded Forge3, Ltd. (forge3.com), a digital agency and education company. Since then, our award-winning team has helped thousands of companies understand, embrace and leverage the amazing power of the web. We build websites, run digital marketing campaigns and explain how it all works via training programs here and across the country.

The Lehigh Valley is the ideal place for a growing company like ours.

Access to people, resources and markets

In many ways, the Lehigh Valley is the “Goldilocks” of locations – not too big, not too small.

It’s the perfect size to network and build meaningful, lifelong relationships. Without these connections, clients and friends, Forge3 would not be as successful as it is today. Over the years, I’ve met (and hired) some of the smartest, most successful businesspeople right here in the Lehigh Valley – many of whom built multi-million dollar businesses of their own.

Having access to Ben Franklin Technology Partners, entrepreneur groups and a growing number of other resources is very helpful as we continue to grow. The colleges and universities are also a great place to find top talent looking to build a career in the Valley.

The Lehigh Valley offers the ideal place to test business concepts. For example, given that education is a big part of what we do at Forge3, we’ve been experimenting with different ways to deliver our training programs. Is online better? Perhaps in-person events? A combination of both? That’s exactly what we’re working on, and the Lehigh Valley is the perfect place to do exactly that.

Location, location, location

Perhaps the biggest benefit we have is our location. We can be just about anywhere within a few hours. In fact, we were just in New York City for a client meeting. It was an easy day trip.

In the weeks ahead, I’m travelling to Cincinnati, OH, West Bend, WI and a handful of other places. Speaking of which…

Having access to Lehigh Valley International Airport is a big deal. Being able to drive 20 minutes, cruise through security within minutes and hop on a flight is fantastic. It sure beats driving to PHL or EWR!

The airport is especially helpful given our increasing focus within the aviation industry. We need to get to airports across the country, some of which don’t offer commercial flights. Being a private pilot since 1999, I’ve found there’s nothing quite like flying to-and-from where we need to be and arriving home in time for dinner.

And we’re not alone. Many of the area’s businesses utilize local airports every day to make business happen. In fact, the next time you’re near Lehigh Valley International Airport, visit Lehigh Valley Aviation Services (in Hangar 7) and watch the planes come and go. It’s a fascinating look behind-the-scenes. Bring your kids!

A look to the future

I see a very promising future both for the Lehigh Valley and for Forge3. With the continued growth of the region, all businesses benefit.

We have increasing access to the best people, expanded resources and an environment that fosters and supports small businesses (and families) like ours. It’s a great place to call home.


This article was originally written for The Morning Call’s annual Business Outlook section.

Author Jeff Teschke

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