Jun 6, 2013

The Alchemy of the NIZ

All over the state, politicians clamoring like baby birds for worms, want to have a NIZ in their district. Although not one new person has yet to step foot in downtown Allentown, by their criterion, the zone is a raging success; "We looked at Allentown and said 'Wow!'" Although chemists never succeeded in making gold from lead, new construction is the coin of the realm in politics. Never mind if the project turns into a white elephant. Never mind if the new tenant in Allentown turns Boyertown into a ghost-town. The key words are ground breaking and ribbon cutting. Reilly's two new projects, storefronts on Hamilton Street, and apartments on Linden Street, have received NIZ Authority Approval; What a surprise! Order more ceremonial shovels and oversize scissors. As more NIZ districts are approved, state taxes will have to rise to cover these developer incentives. Once upon a time a new business needed a building. Now we build new buildings that need to borrow a business.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

MM -

Once upon a time, a business needed to provide a product or service that filled a need of the market. A building was often a sign of the company's success.

Today a building has become a symbol of corporate welfare, as even non-customers are forced to pay for a company's public housing.

Anonymous said...

I am both amazed and disturbed that anyone in state government would call the Allentown NIZ a success at this stage of its existence. Anyone can hold grand announcements of what is projected or desired, some can build new buildings if a large public subsidy is offered, but no one can predetermine economic success before a development functions well in the real world market place. It is irresponsible for state politicians to replicate a NIZ in other Pennsylvania cities before both the market success of the Allentown effort is demonstrated and the unintended consequences (either good or bad) of the program are clearly understood.