Early this morning, National Penn Bancshares CEO Scott Fainor announced that the company will move its headquarters to downtown Allentown in 2014. The bank will bring hundreds of employees to the city, occupying several floors in City Center Two. The building will be constructed on the northeast corner of Seventh and Hamilton streets where a building once occupied by First National Bank of Allentown is being demolished The Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley has long worked with the region’s banks to ensure the Lehigh Valley’s lower-income families and their neighborhoods gain access to credit, which is the intent of the Community Reinvestment Act passed by the United States Congress in 1977. According to Alan Jennings, Executive Director of CACLV, CRA is one of the most effective tools for creating economic opportunity in the country. Jennings issued the following statement in response to the announcement by Fainor. “This morning’s announcement by National Penn Bankshares CEO Scott Fainor may be the most important “community reinvestment act” in decades. The decision represents another big victory for the Neighborhood Improvement Zone. The bank’s action shouts out its bullishness on Allentown and the region. In an era when too many people are cynical about the motives behind others decisions, this decision is clearly one in which the bank sees an opportunity to gain a big return on its investment, building its deposit base and expanding its lending. In other words, the bank sees an opportunity to make money. Nothing could be better for Allentown and the region: it will create jobs where they are most needed, strengthen the livelihood of downtown businesses, create wealth that will spill over to the neighborhood, and improve access to credit. The best community development program is called “profit” and we hope that lots of other investors join the effort. “We congratulate the bank for yet another bold investment in downtown Allentown. We thank NIZ pioneer Senator Pat Browne for his creativity, both the senator and Representative Jennifer Mann for their legislative success, Mayor Ed Pawlowski for his perseverance and focus on the city’s needs and City Center principles J.B. Reilly and Joe Topper for their ability to effectively capitalize on an opportunity, even when it means swimming upstream.” Jennings serves on the Board of Directors of the Allentown Neighborhood Investment Zone Development Authority. He stressed that he was not representing ANIZDA in making this statement.Although it is a positive thing that National Penn is moving into the Reilly and Topper Building, it in no way constitutes an investment in Allentown. On the contrary, the taxpayers are investing in the mortgage and providing a vehicle for the bank to have reduced rent. Jennings fails to acknowledge that the tax money would be utilized by Pennsylvania for reasons other than Reilly's mortgage, such as the CHIP, children's health insurance program. I also fail to see how this building or it's tenants improves the lives of lower income families, or increases their access to credit. J.B.Reilly and Joe Topper did not have to swim upstream; It was more like a shark attack that nobody knew was coming. Alan doesn't mention that Scott Fainor and National Penn loaned J.B. Reilly $20million dollars to buy up Allentown property, before anybody else even knew that NIZ loans would be available for private owners. It was loaned before any criterion were established, and before the NIZ board was even appointed. I agree with Jennings that as long as the Arena Complex and associated buildings are being built, I wish them successful occupancy. But, lets not imagine that the neighborhood poor are going to be invited into National Penn headquarters for a makeover. Lets not blow smoke.
Oct 16, 2012
Differing With Alan Jennings
The Morning Call article and Alan's words about National Penn moving to Reillyville.