May 30, 2012
You may have read about it by now and for that I apologize. I will be resigning my position as Lehigh County Executive on July 8 to become the next president and chief executive officer of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., a regional, public-private partnership charged with marketing and helping to create jobs and grow the economy in the Lehigh Valley.
For the last 17 years, I’ve served in public office as a city councilman, a mayor, a state cabinet secretary and now the elected executive of Lehigh County. I’m a lucky guy. The voters and Gov. Ed Rendell gave me a chance to serve the people of my hometown of Bethlehem, Lehigh County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I never felt like I was going to work because I was doing what I loved.
Nothing has given me more satisfaction in those positions than my work in economic development, whether it was helping with the economic renaissance of Bethlehem following the loss of Bethlehem Steel, helping to locate Ocean Spray and Boston Beer in our county during an economic recession, or helping to bring 300 PennDOT workers to Hamilton St. to help revitalize Downtown Allentown when I was a cabinet secretary.
As we get older, we tend to figure out what motivates us and satisfies us and what we are good at doing. I love the Lehigh Valley. I love living here and helping to make our region better. I want us to always be the best region, with the most job opportunity and the best quality of life not only in Pennsylvania but the East Coast.
One of the challenges with the public sector work I always seem to pick is that the clock is ticking from the day you start. And, while I’m not at the final buzzer in my current position, I have entered the fourth quarter. My term as Lehigh County Executive ends next year. With two kids in college and another one heading there in two years, I don’t have the luxury to wait until the final day. Therefore, I will resign my position effective this July 8. I will start at LVEDC the next day.
I have loved my position with the county. The executive team we assembled is second to none. We are colleagues and friends. And, the work force and quality of operations in Lehigh County are as good as any I’ve seen. I will always remember my days here and I will miss working directly with the employees of the county.
My work, however, will remain here in the Lehigh Valley, where I was born and want to remain. I look forward to working with both of our counties, all 62 of our municipalities, our other regional organizations and our businesses to market our region and to grow the Lehigh Valley. My mission will be simple. Through partnerships at every level and in every sector, public and private, market our region, create jobs and opportunity and expand the economic base of the Lehigh Valley. I have dozens of ideas on how to do that even better. It’s with a mix of nostalgia and excitement that I close one chapter and open the next. The good news is that the story remains the same and together we have many more chapters to write.
Don Cunningham, Lehigh County Executive