Siegel offers thoughts on authorization of performance audit on Neighborhood Improvement Zone in Allentown

HARRISBURG, Dec. 20 – State Rep. Josh Siegel released the following statement after last week’s state Senate authorization of a performance audit of Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone, introduced by state Sen. Jarret Coleman.

“The Neighborhood Improvement Zone has been beneficial not only to Allentown, but the Lehigh Valley as a whole. Our region’s success comes from a history of collaboration and the avoidance of a zero-sum game mentality. Our region’s success comes from a mindset that the success of one city or town must not be at the expense of another. I champion smart growth and economic development in every corner of the Lehigh Valley, and Allentown is our economic and cultural hub. Its continued growth and development directly strengthen surrounding communities by providing jobs, culture, art and leisure for all.

I’m confident any audit will show the NIZ has generated new revenue, improved public safety, helped finance necessary public improvements, created jobs, increased property values, and reawakened one of Pennsylvania’s great cities. Allentown’s and the Lehigh Valley’s fates are linked.

“Allentown serves as an example of how to revitalize communities across the Commonwealth from Reading and Wilkes-Barre to Erie and Johnstown. Post-COVID, programs like the NIZ are critical to helping communities reinvent themselves and transform their economic development strategy to focus on quality of place and quality of life. The NIZ has made Allentown competitive and compelling for businesses and individuals looking to find vibrancy and increased opportunity.

“I encourage Senator Coleman to work with us on serving his district and his constituents who need help navigating heavy industrial and warehouse development, increased demand on their infrastructure, preservation of open space and continued investment in their school districts, which attract so many families. The 16th Senatorial District would be better served by focusing on its unique challenges and opportunities than creating unnecessary controversy around one of the most successful economic revitalizations in the nation.

“Overall, I’m proud that House Democrats focused on boosting public education funding by $1 billion, leading to a nearly 12% increase in Allentown, expanding the child and dependent tax credit for working families and fighting to help finance new school construction; these reflect a real commitment to Allentown and communities like it.”