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Pawlowski: Allentown is the State’s Biggest Economic Success Story

By LVEDC Staff on February 4, 2014

allentownAfter decades of being down, sideways and who knows what else, the City of Allentown is definitely on the way up.

“We are at a good place in the City of Allentown,” Mayor Ed Pawlowski noted during his Jan. 31 State of the City address before a large Allentown Rotary Club luncheon crowd at the Holiday Inn Center City. “The state of our city is one of resurgence.”

That second wind came despite being dealt a punch to the gut that for years left the city doubled over in agony, according to Pawlowski, who noted the city has persevered through years of soaring deficits, a recent depressed economic environment and a less-than stellar perception that has hung over the city like a – good grief – a dark cloud over Charlie Brown.

“We didn’t see growth. We didn’t see economic development. Our economy was in decline,” Pawlowski said, while painting the picture of woe that encompassed Allentown. “In fact, we were literally on the brink of bankruptcy.”

Collectively the city and its people changed those daunting challenges into opportunities.

“We’ve rebuilt our finances by turning a multi-million deficit into a multi-million dollar surplus,” the mayor noted. “We used an innovative approach to fully fund our pensions, seen six straight years of crime decrease, and over a billion in new investment and development.”

While that billion in new investment and development comes from many sources, without question the lion’s share is happening in the Neighborhood Improvement Zone, a bona fide game-changing event that literally has helped transform Allentown.

“We are now the fastest-growing city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Pawlowski said. “The best way to promote our economy is also, I think, the best way to lay a foundation for a strong future and that is executing fundamentals, a sound state of finances and good public schools. And that’s what we’ve done. Lay that foundation.”

And that solid benchmark is very important in the city’s efforts to attract economic development.

“It allows us to be able to recruit new businesses to Allentown because now we have something to something to sell,” the mayor said. “We have a city that is on a solid fiscal foundation. And it’s working… The biggest economic success story in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the City of Allentown.”

The year of 2014 along holds great potential and promise for the City of Allentown thanks to manifestation of significant project in the NIZ. The PPL Center is scheduled to open before fall; One City Center and Two City Center are slated to open sooner.

“We’re creating thousands of jobs that are coming from all this new development,” Pawlowski said. “…Bringing in all this new investment is important, but a great city is many, many things. And it starts with opportunity.”

The Allentown Employment and Training Center, created last year by the city at the Lehigh Carbon Community College’s downtown campus, will help to provide those opportunities, Pawlowski mentioned during his address.

“It’s helping us meet our long-standing commitment to make these jobs available to our citizens and to make sure that everyone – every single person – in this city benefits from the positive momentum that has been generated by all the new development that has happened here in the city.”

And that momentum has placed the city on the upward escalator after spending years near the basement.

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