September 12, 2016 / Before I explain this blog post’s headline, I want to extend a heartfelt congratulations to AlphaGraphics Lehigh Valley for being named one of Lehigh Valley Business‘ 2016 Fastest Growing Companies. Owners Michael and Ilene Stroh have done a fantastic job not only growing their company, but also contributing to the flourishing business-to-business environment in Downtown Allentown. I’m thrilled that they have received this recognition, and about their impressive entrepreneurial success.
The Strohs have a well-earned reputation in the Lehigh Valley for delivering excellent products and offering unbeatable customer service. AlphaGraphics offers businesses a complete range of print, visual communications, and marketing products and solutions. They are also known for their reliability, and for making the needs of their clients a top priority.
The Downtown Allentown print and graphic design shop moved to Three City Center eight months ago to house its expanded business center. The move became necessary after the company acquired and merged with an AlphaGraphics franchise in Somerset, New Jersey. The new location at 515 Hamilton Street roughly doubled the company’s space and allowed them to have a customer-facing sales and design center and a new print production facility in the back—all in a revitalized and busy urban setting.
They came, they launched, they prospered.
AlphaGraphics is the kind of success story that represents the Downtown Allentown small business community so well. Since moving their operations here, the Strohs have grown their workforce to meet the demands of their success with a current team of six full-time employees and one part-time.
“We have built and continue to build relationships with businesses here, and we are really excited about partnering with the Lehigh County Historical Society and the Heritage Museum located here in the city to offer more ways for businesses to enhance their décor with window, wall and conference room graphics leveraging the Historical Society’s vast collection of historic images. We’re learning a lot about the rich history of Allentown,” says Ilene.
“We’ve been in Downtown Allentown almost four years now and have felt welcomed and integrated into the community from early on. People here are full of ideas and energy.”
So, what does this have to do with McDonald’s and GE?
In August, The New York Times published the story “Why Corporate America Is Leaving the Suburbs for the City,” hitting on many of the reasons why companies of all sizes are investing in downtown offices and operations. Companies like Chicago returnees McDonald’s and Motorola Solutions and Boston-bound GE are moving their headquarters back to the cities from the suburbs for strategic reasons. They see the many appealing benefits of working in the thriving environments that urban downtowns offer. That’s a similar story to that of AlphaGraphics Lehigh Valley here in the new Downtown Allentown.
From the article:
“Part of it is that cities are more attractive places to live than they were 30 years ago and are more willing to provide tax incentives, and young people want to be there,” said David J. Collis, who teaches corporate strategy at Harvard Business School.
Ah, yes… the millennials are back in the picture. The fact is, for companies to attract them, it helps to be in the city. Suburban office plazas aren’t cutting it for young workers who want to be able to leave the building over lunch or after hours and find restaurants, shopping, entertainment and nightlife. Walking to work when you live where it’s fun is also a big millennial draw. (Actually, I think it might be a big empty-nester/baby-boomer draw too, but that’s just my personal observation.) I see it here in Downtown Allentown every day, and my observations are supported by the waiting list for apartments at STRATA Flats and the upcoming STRATA II.
Today’s businesses want to be where there is a vibrant and diverse community to both draw talent from and lure talent to. Companies want to be where there is energy and excitement, where innovation and collaboration are at the ready. America’s downtowns, like ours, are meeting and exceeding those expectations for businesses of all sizes.