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Sen. Browne on Allentown’s Return to its Glory Days

By LVEDC Staff on June 3, 2014

“The NIZ will allow Allentown to reproduce productivity,” Sen. Browne noted during May 30th's LVEDC event at Two City Center in Allentown.

“The NIZ will allow Allentown to reproduce productivity,” Sen. Browne noted during May 29th’s LVEDC event at Two City Center in Allentown.

Pennsylvania Senator Patrick Browne, the man who often receives the lion’s share of credit for downtown Allentown’s amazing economic rebirth, appeared in the heart of the city on May 29th to address the 100 movers and shakers who attended the Conversation & Cocktails event hosted by LVEDC’s Legislative & Government Relations Committee.

Fittingly, the gathering took place in a meeting room off the lobby of Two City Center, the office building that sits at the corner of Seventh and Hamilton streets – a stone’s throw from PPL Arena, the Renaissance Hotel and a pack of other construction projects.

More than $1 billion in development money has been earmarked for Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone since Sen. Browne and his fellow legislators approved the legislation that makes it more compelling for developers to invest in Center City and the nearby waterfront.

“The NIZ will allow Allentown to reproduce productivity,” Sen. Browne said, after showing a 1940s-era film of a bustling Center City Allentown. “The initiative, however, is just a piece of paper without investors.”

The senator praised the partnership of state, local and private officials that he says makes economic development happen more easily in Lehigh Valley than anywhere else in the commonwealth.

“When it comes to productive spending for economic development, there’s not a place in the state that could be more involved,” he said.

“In fact, my colleagues are amazed when I tell them that Lehigh Valley has more jobs than there are people to fill them. And that although we have just eight percent of Pennsylvania’s population, a full 40 percent of inquiries to the Department of Community and Economic Development involve Lehigh Valley.”

LVEDC’s Conversation & Cocktails series is sponsored by Air Products, a Fortune 500 company that will soon fill office space in Two City Center. Jim Solomon, director of the Liquefied Natural Gas division of Air Products, introduced Sen. Browne.

Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC, provided opening comments.

He noted, “One of the most important things on our agenda is the revitalization of our downtowns.”

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