For more than 100 years, the Lehigh Valley, a metropolitan region in northeastern Pennsylvania, was renown as an industrial powerhouse, and manufacturers like Bethlehem Steel, Mack Truck and Coplay Portland Cement were its heart. But by the 1980's, these industries had closed, moved out of the region or were downsized due to national and global competition. The urban areas- Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton- went into a sharp economic decline, which lasted for nearly three decades.
By 2014 however, the city of Allentown was gaining global recognition for its “innovative, forward-looking approach to design and development.” The economic renaissance of Allentown is a testament to the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of its ancestors. The establishment of a Neighbourhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) in Allentown’s downtown core was the spark that launched the city’s economic revitalization, which has included: a 10,000-seat multipurpose arena, several office towers, restaurants, green spaces, restored historic buildings as well as residential and retail spaces. Downtown Allentown is now “a regional centre of excellence for business, culture and metropolitan living." In 2011 only 9,000 people worked downtown but by 2018, that number had grown to 16,000.