A group of citizens in Allentown has come together to help the city's residents to acquire the many jobs expected in its downtown Neighborhood Improvement Zone.
Jobs for Allentown, the new organization, rallied at city hall last night, outside of the job task force meeting of the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Authority. The organization wants the city to make it a priority to attract downtown residents to the jobs that will be created, and is asking for the city to offer initiatives to the residents such as job fairs and reasonable wages.
Ce-Ce Gerlach, the resident representative of the job task force, a sub-committee of the NIZ authority, has been meeting with the group for the past year. The group – of which Gerlach is a member – officially became an organization last week. Once the closed-door meeting began last night, Gerlach took the group members' message and relayed it to the other 11 members of the job task force, which included developers and representatives of the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board and Hispanic American Organization.
"I see a future in which the development that occurs in Allentown stands to benefit all Allentown residents, as long as we continue to advocate," Gerlach said.
NIZ is a special taxing district of 128 acres in the city's downtown and along the western side of the Lehigh River that encourages development and revitalization by awarding tax incentives to developers. One project set to bring jobs to the downtown by fall is the PPL Arena, a 10,000-seat ice hockey arena, concert venue and home to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms minor league team. Additionally, an 11-story office complex, serving as National Penn Bank's headquarters, will be completed by spring. A host of restaurants and retail businesses also is expected to arrive with the completion of a five-story luxury apartment building this year.