Nearly 80 investors, board members and partners of Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. showed up for “Cocktails and Conversation,” a program with Pa. Secretary of Revenue Dan Meuser at the event center at Blue Grillhouse in Bethlehem Township yesterday.
Meuser, who oversees state revenue collections, briefly touched on the development of Allentown's Neighborhood Improvement Zone district among other topics.
"The NIZ represents an opportunity to transform a city, not just any city, some could argue, America's city," said Meuser. "There are opportunities for that to expand. There are some great opportunities for urban and suburban development."
Meuser described Gov. Corbett's budget as a balanced budget, particularly for energy policy and transportation needs. Meuser also spoke in favor of getting the state out of the liquor selling business, emphasizing that government should not be involved in the sales and distribution system of state-operated liquor stores.
With tax reform proposals on the way in the next few years, Meuser said he was hopeful these would put Pennsylvania on the list of places where companies want to locate their headquarters.
Shortly before Meuser got introduced to the crowd, Sen. Pat Browne said 40 percent of economic development leads in the state come to the Lehigh Valley first. With Meuser's leadership, Browne said the state Department of Revenue "has really stepped forward in economic development."
The NIZ is the funding mechanism that allows a municipality and developers to use future gains in taxes to subsidize current improvements, generating a new revenue stream.
The zone attracted various tenants to locate in downtown Allentown, spurred construction of office buildings, drafted the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to the new arena (PPL Center) currently under construction, and also prompted activity for the Waterfront redevelopment plans.