Bree Nidds was so impressed with Pennylvania’s Lehigh Valley, she moved from Roanoke, Virginia, to become the CVB’s vice president of sales. If she has her way, Nidds may be one of the rare transplants to promote the eastern Pennsylvania region.
In February, three of the region’s leading organizations, banded together to create the “Made Possible in Lehigh Valley” campaign.
Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, Discover Lehigh Valley and the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce leaders stood in front of an audience at the historic Hotel Bethlehem pledging to work, and speak, in unison to boost the area.
The goal is to tell the positive stories Lehigh Valley has to offer, including the corporations based there. Through that, the region will be seen as a desirable place to work and live—ultimately convincing locals stay in the area. The positivity should spill over to attracting national and regional groups to meet and play in the area comprised of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton.
“Doing this collectively allows for a stronger voice,” says Nidds, whose background at Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge gives her extensive experience working with regional destinations.
Adds Discover Lehigh President Alex Michaels: “The more we tell the story, the more we spread the word about how incredible this Lehigh Valley is, we know we will get this story to a wider audience.”
Michaels grew up in Lehigh Valley before crisscrossing the country as a leader in destination sales. When the opportunity to sell his hometown opened up, he jumped at it.
Nidds says a new initiative is to let the locals do the talking for her. The CVB is partnering with Northampton Community College to create a certified tourism ambassador program similar to one developed in Columbus, Ohio. The program will run virtually this fall.
The presence of Crayola, Martin Guitars and Mack Trucks, is a starting point for Nidds. Not only does she hope the corporations bring national events to their hometown, they are also a draw for groups in nearby metropolises.
Lehigh Valley is located 90 minutes west of New York City, 60 minutes north of Philadelphia and less than three hours from Washington, D.C. That sort of accessibility will be a major positive as the travel industry relies on short trips during its first stages of recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
Connect Pennsylvania will draw further attention on the region this winter. The event will be held at Wind Creek Bethlehem casino and resort, which has unveiled expansion plans to add 270 new rooms, bringing the total to 553. The project, scheduled to be completed in 2021, also entails 35,000 square feet of meeting space.
“That many rooms under one roof is going to drive more group business here,” Nidds predicts.
- The Liberty Bell was once hidden away under the basement floorboards of a church in Allentown. A replica of the bell stands in the city.
- Then region is home to Musikfest, the nation's largest non-gated free music festival.
- Easton is home to GarlicFest and BaconFest each fall.