Gas prices spiking again

After several weeks of gas prices retreating from record highs, prices at the pump are spiking again and AAA East Central said OPEC and demand are the main drivers of the increase. 

Gas prices in Pennsylvania are 14 cents higher this week at $3.913 per gallon, according to AAA East Central’s most recent Gas Price Report. 

In the Lehigh Valley the average price for a gallon of gas rose to $3.848 on Oct. 11, up from $3.640 a week prior. 

The average price for a gallon of gas one year ago was $3.404 in the Lehigh Valley. 

Nationally, the average price for a gallon of gas rose almost 12 cents over the past week to hit $3.923. Today’s national average is almost 12 cents higher than a month ago and almost 65 cents more than a year ago.  

AAA said Higher crude prices and increased domestic demand are the main factors currently affecting gas prices. 

The OPEC+ recent announcement that the group of oil-producing nations would slash output by 2 million barrels per day led to the price of oil creeping above $90 a barrel for the first time in several weeks, said AAA.  

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session, West Texas Intermediate increased by $4.19 to settle at $92.64. Additionally, according to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), total domestic crude inventories declined by 1.4 million barrels to 429.2 million barrels. 

EIA’s latest weekly report also showed gas demand increased nationally from 8.83 million barrels per day to 9.47 million barrels per day last week.  

Total domestic gasoline stocks decreased significantly by 4.7 million barrels to 207.5 million barrels. High gasoline demand, amid tight supply, has led to higher pump prices nationwide, said AAA. 


First of three Lehigh Valley Wingstops opening in Emmaus

A Wingstop restaurant is opening soon in Emmaus. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

Wingstop Restaurants Inc. has announced the opening of one of three Lehigh Valley locations. The new Wingstop is in Emmaus a 1328 Chestnut St.  

The new restaurant is owned and operated by Wingstop brand partner, Talon Restaurants LLC, which has an area development agreement with Wingstop to open 15 restaurants over four years.  

According to a press release from Wingstop, Talon Restaurants is locally owned and operated and plans to open new locations throughout eastern and central Pennsylvania.  

The Emmaus location will open Oct. 17, with locations on Airport Road and Bethlehem Square opening in the coming months.  

“Wingstop aspires to be a Top 10 Global Restaurant Brand and is expanding at a rapid pace, here in Emmaus and across the globe,” said a Wingstop spokesperson. “We believe that everyone should have a chance to try our signature flavors that we believe put Wingstop in a category of one, and we’re excited to see Wingstop become a favorite, go-to spot for flavor in the community.”  

The Wingstop menu features cooked-to-order classic and boneless chicken wings, crispy tenders and a new Wingstop Chicken Sandwich. All are available in 12 different flavors.  

Popular sauces include Mango Habanero, Lemon Pepper, Garlic Parmesan and Original Hot. Wingstop also has a variety of house-made sides, including hand-cut, seasoned fries, and scratch-made ranch. The new Wingstop is open daily from 11 a.m. – midnight, seven days a week.  

Wingstop is a chain founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. It operates and franchises more than 1,850 locations worldwide. 

$850K in state funding boosts LVIA upgrade plans

Infrastructure upgrades at Lehigh Valley Internationa Airport have received a boost from $850,000 in funding that Pa. State Sen. Lisa, Boscola, D-Northampton, secured in the 2022-23 state budget. 

The money will be used to upgrade and rehabilitate the eight existing passenger boarding bridges at the airport. 

“There’s definitely operational stress on these necessary pieces of equipment, with the majority of the bridges over 25 years old,” said Thomas R. Stoudt, executive director of the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority (LNAA). “We are extremely grateful for the hard work of Senator Boscola to help the Airport continue to maintain its primary role of being an economic asset for the region,” said Stoudt. 

Part of the project includes converting the existing solid state PBB controls to industry standard Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s) which will improve reliability and service capabilities while ensuring safe and efficient bridge operation during aircraft docking. 

“Lehigh Valley International Airport is a vital economic engine and asset with an impact that stretches well beyond our region – producing over $547 million of direct and in-direct revenue annually and being responsible for more than 5,000 area jobs,” Senator Boscola said. “This state investment will aid in making ABE an even more attractive airport for travelers and increase its economic impact on our region and Commonwealth.” 

The funding will also help the airport with the acquisition of PBB management software that provides real-time monitoring and diagnostic information on the status, performance, and potential issues with equipment. 

The airport authority is also hoping for a reduction of on-airport emissions through the replacement of electric Ground Power Units (GPU) and Pre-conditioned Air Units (PCAir) that provide electrical power and conditioned air to aircraft when using the PBB. 

Stoudt noted that the airport just experienced one of the busiest summer travel seasons in recent history. From June through August, 282,852 passengers used ABE. That’s compared to the 267,508 travelers at the Airport in the summer of 2021. 


Inflation, higher mortgage rates slowing Lehigh Valley housing market

The residential real estate market continues to slow, and the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors is saying rising consumer prices and higher mortgage interest rates are contributing to the cooling market. 

“The cost of borrowing has reached multi-year highs on everything from credit cards to auto loans in 2022 as mortgage interest rates topped 6% for the first time since 2008, causing existing home sales in the U.S. to decline for the seventh consecutive month,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo. “Inventory remains lower than normal, and as the market continues to shift, experts project homes will begin to spend more days on market and price growth will slow in the months ahead.” 

According to GLVR, closed sales dipped 15.9% to 722 listings in September and pending sales were down 20.5 % to 611. 

Housing inventory is still low. There were 790 units in September for Lehigh and Northampton counties and new listings slipped 21.0% to 696. That led the median sales price to increase 13.4% from the prior month to $298,250. 

In Carbon County, the median sales price increased to $196,000. Closed sales were up to 84. Pending sales dropped to 68. New Listings went up two listings to 89.  

“There’s no denying that the real estate market is in flux,” said GLVR President Howard Schaeffer. “Potential buyers are contending with higher-than-expected housing prices and interest rates, and sellers are struggling to find new properties to move into before closing on their current residences. This has left many wondering whether they should just wait or risk a loss by engaging with a volatile market.” 

Mack announces sale of two electric refuse vehicles

Miami-Dade County recently purchased a Mack LR electric refuse vehicle. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

Mack Truck has announced the sale of two electric refuse vehicles this week, both of which were assembled at its Lehigh Valley operations. 

Mack recently announced a target of 35 percent of its global sales will be fully electric by 2030, which the Mack LR Electric will help fulfill. 

Miami-Dade County executives have introduced the Mack LR Electric refuse vehicle it purchased to help the County improve resiliency and sustainability. The Mack LR Electric is Miami-Dade’s first heavy-duty electric vehicle purchase for its fleet.  

The Mack LR Electric offers zero tailpipe emissions, improved sustainability and a quieter vehicle for refuse collection.  

The Town of Cary, North Carolina, also recently ordered a Mack LR Electric Class 8 refuse vehicle. 

Mack said the truck will provide the community with reduced emissions, maintenance and fuel costs and is expected to be in full operation in the fall of 2023.  

This order makes Cary the first municipality in North Carolina to order a Mack LR Electric refuse vehicle. 

“Mack congratulates the Town of Cary on their pursuit of sustainable operations and is proud that they have chosen to purchase and deploy a Mack LR Electric to help achieve their goals,” said Jonathan Randall, Mack Trucks senior vice president of sales and commercial operations. “We look forward to continuing our commitment to developing sustainable transportation solutions with Cary and our other customers, as well as helping them fulfill their environmental goals.” 


Pennsylvania gas prices lower than many parts of the country

For the second straight week, gas prices declined in Pennsylvania while the national average increased. 

According to the most recent report from AAA East Central, gas prices in Pennsylvania are more than 2 cents lower this week at $3.769 per gallon. 

In the Lehigh Valley the average price for a gallon dropped to $3.640 a gallon on Oct. 4, down from $3.680 on Sept. 27. 

The price is still significantly higher than one year ago. On Oct. 4, 2021 the average price for a gallon of gas was $3.293. 

Meanwhile the national average pump price for a gallon of gas increased almost six cents over the past week to hit $3.805 according to AAA.  

It said tight supply and increased demand are the main culprits for the jump in price.  

According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas demand increased nationally from 8.32 million barrels per day to 8.83 million barrels per day last week.  

At the same time, total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 2.4 million barrels to 212.2 million barrels. 

AAA said the regional differences in gas prices are dramatic right now with prices on the West Coast hitting $6 a gallon and higher, while Texas and Gulf Coast states have prices dipping below $3 in some areas.  

Meanwhile, gas prices in the upper Midwest have risen since a deadly refinery fire Sept. 20 in Toledo, Ohio, which closed the plant.  

According to the latest reports, the 160,000 barrel-per-day BP-Husky Toledo refinery could be down for months. 

OraSure cuts ribbon on COVID-19 test manufacturing facility

Local officials gather to cut the ribbon at Opus Way, OraSure Technologies new COVID-19 rabid test manufacturing facility. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

OraSure Technologies has officially cut the ribbon on Opus Way, its new expanded facility in Bethlehem Township, which was constructed with the help of $109 million from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to ramp up production of InteliSwab COVID-19 rapid tests as part of the nation’s pandemic preparedness plan. 

“We have built the capacity to manufacture almost as many tests in a single week as we used to produce in an entire year … and we will continue to ramp production as we bring this new facility fully online,” said Carrie Eglinton Manner, president and CEO of OraSure Technologies. 

She called Opus Way a team effort – both within the organization and through OraSure’s partnerships with the federal and state government.  

“It is because of this collaboration that we are here together today for our official ribbon-cutting ceremony,” she said. 

OraSure was awarded a total of three contracts from the federal government last year to help develop, produce and distribute the COVID-19 test. Those included $205 million for InteliSwab COVID-19 Rapid Test procurement, $109 million for InteliSwab manufacturing capacity build out, and $13.6 million to pursue full FDA 510(k) clearance for InteliSwab. 

“These contracts position OraSure as an important part of the government’s global pandemic response,” said Lisa Nibauer, OraSure’s president of Diagnostics. “The U.S. government’s selection of OraSure’s InteliSwab rapid test for their national pandemic preparedness effort is a great honor.” 

Average gas prices up nationally, still dropping locally

While nationally gas prices took an upturn, in Pennsylvania they continued to retreat from their record highs earlier this year. 

Gas prices rose seven cents over the past week, as the national average pump price hit $3.747. 

Gas prices in Pennsylvania, however, are five cents lower this week at $3.795 per gallon, according to AAA East Central’s Gas Price Report. 

The average price of a gallon of gas in the Lehigh Valley is also down from $3.743 on Sept. 20 to $3.680 on Sept. 27. Prices are still higher than they were one year ago. The average price for a gallon of gas on Sept. 27, 2021 was $3.298 

AAA said the main reason for the national increase was higher regional prices on the West Coast and the Midwest due to refinery issues ranging from planned maintenance to a fire.  

It noted that Hurricane Ian could also cause problems, depending on the storm’s track, by disrupting oil production in the Gulf of Mexico and impacting large coastal refineries. But low domestic demand and much lower oil prices have helped to lessen some of the impact.  

Meanwhile, on Friday, the price of oil slipped below $80 a barrel for the first time since January, primarily due to fears of a recession-led global economic slowdown. 

According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas demand decreased from 8.49 million barrels per day to 8.32 million barrels per day last week.  

Total domestic gasoline stocks increased by 1.6 million barrels to 214.6 million barrels according to the EIA data. Although gasoline demand has decreased, tight supply and fluctuating oil prices have increased the national average price, AAA said. 

AAA noted that while gas prices saw an over week increase nationally, Tuesday’s national average of $3.747 is 11 cents less than a month ago but almost 56 cents more than a year ago. 


LVIA reports strong summer travel season

Lehigh Valley International Airport saw a strong summer for travel, with the busiest vacation season in recent history. 

According to the Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority, between June and August of this year, there were 282,852 passengers traveling through the airport, that compares to 267,508 that used the airport during the summer of 2021. 

The increase came after a surge in passenger traffic during April and May. 

“Extremely busy, that’s the best way to describe the last three months at your neighborhood airport. Indications of strong airline bookings and predictions by industry experts for heavy volumes of travelers taking to the skies certainly came to fruition,” said Thomas R. Stoudt, executive director, LNAA. 

Allegiant increased 33.7%, American jumped 13.2%, and United moved up 6%. Delta passenger traffic declined 23% from last August. 

Now that it’s fall, the airport does expect a drop in traffic. 

“Typically, the next few months slow down which allows us to catch our breath before the holiday rush begins,” said Stoudt. 

Meanwhile, Stoudt said the TSA Checkpoint / Terminal Connector Project at the airport has passed the halfway mark towards completion.  

The $31-million infrastructure investments include up to four TSA security checkpoint screening lanes, improved vertical circulation equipment, shorter walking distances with separation of arriving and departing passengers, and enhanced air purification systems. 

“Everyone can see the pieces of the construction puzzle coming together. It really puts in perspective what the traveler is going to experience in 2023,” said Ryan Meyer, director of Planning and Programming, LNAA. 

A Conversation With: Richard Hobbs, president and CEO of the Manufacturers Resource Center of the Lehigh Valley

Richard Hobbs –

LVB: Are supply chain issues continuing to plague manufacturers in the region, or is the problem getting better? 

Hobbs: The quick answer to this question is both. The supply chain issues are improving, but they are still a plague to many manufacturers. To a large degree, it depends on your market segment/niche and whether you source products from far away, as in offshore, or you need some of the “tough to get” products out there. We see many manufacturers waiting months for what used to be weeks in deliveries. Imports are stuck in transit often, be it at the ports or on the ocean or on truck transit.  

Many have turned to airfreight as an alternative, but capacity has been stretched thin there as well. All that said, many manufacturers have been able to bulk up on inventories, thus minimizing the impact of supply chain issues. While not the greatest financial move, it has helped to keep lead times in check and win business in some cases. 

 LVB: Many industries, including manufacturing, are having trouble finding the right talent. What is being done to help meet the labor demand? 

Hobbs: This was a problem before the pandemic in manufacturing, but the pandemic has certainly made it worse. Ultimately there is a demographic issue at the root of this problem. There just aren’t enough workers to fill the open jobs, this is especially true in the Lehigh Valley. To combat this, employers are vying to become the “employer of choice” to attract and retain talent.  

Many employers are getting creative and looking outside the box to alternate sources of labor such as immigrant workers, veterans, second chance (previously incarcerated) individuals etc. There has also been a lot more activity with regard to fostering apprenticeships and focusing on graduating high school and CTE (Career and Technical Education) students. 

 LVB: There has been a lot of effort being put into getting young people interested in manufacturing careers, are you seeing progress? 

Hobbs: Yes, we are seeing progress, but a lot of this is difficult to measure. Qualitatively we are seeing more activity in the middle and high schools, but how much of this directly translates into manufacturing careers is a challenge to measure. 

 LVB: What are some of the challenges ahead for manufacturers in the Lehigh Valley and how is the MRC helping them address those challenges? 

Hobbs: The main challenge is continuing to fill the pipeline for new workers and to retain the ones you already have! Simple to say, but much harder to do. Right behind the workforce challenges are the supply chain issues talked about earlier in this Q&A. The MRC continues to offer targeted trainings, consulting and coaching guidance, along with a suite of workforce initiatives (What’s So Cool About Manufacturing, The Dream Team, STEAM Club, apprenticeship opportunities) to help manufacturers through these two significant challenges. 

Loan company opens new branch in Easton

From left, Julie Davis, Edemil Perez, and Stephen Planisky staff the new Lendmark Easton office. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

Lendmark Financial Services, a provider of household credit and consumer loan solutions, has opened a branch in Easton, expanding its presence in Pennsylvania.  

The branch is located at 3063 William Penn Hwy. 

 The Easton branch is Lendmark’s 34th location in Pennsylvania, following the recent opening of a branch in Pottstown.  

Lendmark expects to serve between 500 and 600 customers in Easton in its first year.   

Stephen Planisky was promoted to the branch manager position from within the company and will lead the Easton location.  

“Planned and unplanned life events still happen, causing many consumers to look for financial resources to meet these needs,” said Bobby Aiken, CEO of Lendmark Financial Services. “Our team will be laser focused on serving the Easton community, delivering personalized and convenient household credit solutions that meet their respective financial needs.”  

In addition to serving consumers directly, Lendmark provides financing solutions for more than 11,000 retailers and independent auto dealerships, allowing these businesses’ customers to apply for Lendmark financing.  


Logistics company hiring 200+ seasonal workers in the Lehigh Valley


Global transport and logistics provider GEODIS said it plans to hire approximately 215 seasonal workers in the Allentown area in preparation for peak season.  

The company is increasing its workforce to strengthen its warehousing and distribution center capabilities to prepare for the holiday season. 

GEODIS said that according to Insider Intelligence, the 2022 peak season is expected to see healthy consumer spending patterns continue after record 2021 holiday sales as global supply chains continue to stabilize.  

To anticipate demand, GEODIS plans to hire seasonal employees to join its existing workforce of more than 13,000 employees across the U.S. and Canada. 

“With the economic conditions consumers and our clients are facing, it is now more critical than ever that businesses have a trusted third-party logistics partner with the expertise and team to navigate the unexpected,” said Anthony Jordan, GEODIS in Americas executive vice president and chief operating officer.  

GEODIS is hiring material handlers and equipment operators this peak season across 20 of its campuses in the U.S. and Canada. GEODIS offers competitive pay along with referral bonuses. Additionally, the company said it offers flexible schedules where feasible, the opportunity to choose between part-time or full-time seasonal work. 

Along with prioritizing an employee-first work environment, GEODIS offers COVID-safe warehouses featuring socially distant workstations, frequent surface cleaning and extensive use of technology to help deliver ongoing reports within the warehouse to mitigate potential COVID-19 outbreaks.