Schweyer: Legislation for more liquor licenses to enhance economic development
Often times, our mid-size cities (like Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton) struggle to get new restaurants to locate downtown. One key tool to help entice these businesses into economically disadvantaged areas is the Economic Development Liquor License. Currently, third-class cities (like Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton) may be awarded two economic development licenses per year, per county. But if a county has more than one mid-size city (for example, Lehigh County includes both Allentown and Bethlehem), the cities have to compete with each other for these economic development tools.
I introduced legislation recently that would amend the current state liquor code by allowing up to three new liquor licenses per year in these counties instead of two, enhancing the chances for economic development. It also would ensure that no single municipality could be awarded more than two of these economic development licenses. I believe this would ensure that every city has the ability to entice good restaurants to their economically disadvantaged areas and help kick start their economic recovery.
Job creation, economic revitalization and community development are certainly priorities of mine – and the state should partner with the private sector and our local municipalities. If passed, this would be a small change to the liquor code, but it could have a big impact on cities struggling to find new investors in their under-developed sections.