Mar 9, 2016

Cookie Crumbs For Allentown's Little People


While Reilly's CityCenter Development Company, and its advertising agency, The Morning Call, tells us that there is much interest by businesses to locate to NIZ, we now learn that startup entrepreneurs can compete for a handout contest. Although they're not eligible for the bigboy brass rings given out by National Penn Bank, ten of them can qualify for $15K each. The contest is being sponsored by the City Of Pawlowski, the Agency of Alan Jennings, and other tax payer funded entities. I never heard of so many people being involved in giving out a total of $150k, including several paid administrators.  So, Mr. and Mrs. homeowner, not only are you sporting for the brass rings, you also now get to sponsor a game for the little people.

Allentown just doesn't believe that anybody should ever start a business with their own money. This isn't a new idea;  Pawlowski gave out grants to about ten small startups on Hamilton Street seven years ago. Although, apparently nobody at the paper, or in the new Mosaic group remembers, this naysayer does. I did  blog posts at the time on the give-aways.  There was a cookie lady who lasted until she spent all her grant. Each cookie she made cost us about ten dollars.  Although, the posts still exists in my archives, few of the businesses still do. Here's an idea;  Instead of a contest where business plans are pitched to a contrived committee to dispense our tax money, how about  people  presenting their idea to a bank, and if it's really worthwhile, getting a real business loan.

Imagine a town giving out its Community Block Grants in a contest fashioned after a reality television show, being promoted by a mayor, who is facing pending federal corruption charges. 

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see the free advertising these 10 businesses will receive. Oh the diversity, oh the joy, oh the bullshit.

Dreaming of Justice said...

THAT'S IT!

FED ED HAS A NEW CAREER PATH AS A GAME SHOW HOST!

I always thought those little pig-eyes were saying 'Let's make a deal!"

Anonymous said...

These are loans, not give aways. Money comes from the Community Block Grant Development Program (CBGD) from the Feds(HUD, not the city or state budget. Micro-financing programs such as these have been shown to be very successful at stimulating local economic growth and job creation in distressed areas. Seems like a good way to channel federal dollars into local communities (much better than big federally run programs). CDGB has a long history of success and its budget is a fraction of the US budget and miniscule compared to the subsidies, bail outs, and tax breaks to large corporations. Small businesses are and will continue be the backbone of the US economy as they are the only decent job creators. Programs like this support small business development. For more information about CDBG look here: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=18-FY16CJ-CDFund.pdf

Thank you for considering the positive side to programs like these.

Anonymous said...

Ed love the little people, and Alan loves Ed. They both love Allentown.

Anonymous said...

The press goes wild over the $150,000 but come on, a measly $15,000 is an impotent amount of money for a startup business today.

What you don't hear about is what all the private sector businesses are going to chip in. Sure, you get 10 minutes with one of the lawyers that aren't under investigation at Norris but what are all the other businesses doing besides some golf claps and a press conference?

What is glossed over is that the money is taxpayer grant money meaning that it's never repaid.

If you want to see how level the playing field really is go take your business plan and present it in front of ANIZDA and ask for funding.

What bothers me about this program is that $150,000 could go towards something more meaningful.

Anonymous said...

We could add another useless city position for the 150k. Why waste it on this? Imagine the hand holding that will be given to these people. It's stated they must be financially sound. Please. Minimum startup money should be enough to live on for a year, plus all the expenses.

michael molovinsky said...

anon@10:24, first off, the loans are "forgivable", which translates into never being repaid. second off, local money or federal money, it's our taxes either way. i've seen the results of funding these created business people, who have little to no volition on their own; the only ones who survive are the ones who keep getting subsidized, so the program track records get distorted, for apologists and administrators such as yourself.

alfonso todd said...

MM,

There are many of us who self-funded our businesses because we had no connections, no time for red tape, and no choice. City / government assistance was not an option. In fact, the majority of the thriving small and medium sized "mom and pop" businesses around the Allentown / LV area were self funded and created out of necessity, the hope to obtain a better salary than wha the Valley offered, and the dream of freedom / a better life. (Entrepreneurship is key) I always said if they would create funding to CULTIVATE the already existing talent and ENHANCE the already existing small businesses (pre-NIZ and PPL Arena) it would be a boon to the City. Unfortunately, I believe too many politics and pre-concieved notions on what the "powers that be" believe the businesses should be and what the City should look like is what keeps us from prospering.

- Alfonso Todd

michael molovinsky said...

alfonso@10:53, as you know, i'm not shy about telling it like it is, nor about color. the real irony of allentown is that the same merchants, merchandise and customers that were called a "cancer" on hamilton street, are now called a "success" on 7th street, which is apparently the designated district for brown people. while most of the merchants displaced by the NIZ were yellow, the NIZ brass rings have been going to the white merchants. as anon 10:14 stated, we will now have the wonderful Mosaic program for diversity.

alfonso todd said...

The irony is that 7th Street IS jumping with people traffic and merchants and most of those businesses are self funded. What Allentown hasn't realized yet is us "undesirables" are more resourceful and valuable than they think.... The "urban dollar" is STRONG in A-town, they just haven't figured out how to access it... Much to their chagrin... 5 shops close in the NIZ and multiple stores have opened on 7th Street without any tax incentives... THings that make you go, "Hmmmm..."

- Alfonso Todd

Anonymous said...

A broom handle shop would work well in Allentown. The old handles are almost worn out. Look at the pictures of the presser at the piano shop.

Anonymous said...

What's the word on the new 7 or 8 new tenants vying for the Shulas spot.

LVCI said...

The Morning Call, tells us that there is much interest by businesses to locate to NIZ
If this were so why would CBG's (from HUD) be needed to lure them? Plus these grants have more strings attached to them then Pinocchio..

ten of them can qualify for $15K each
I don't see how this will help. $15k wouldn't even begin to cover a year's worth of rent. Over 45 years ago I learned early on what's required from banks and regulators what it takes to startup a business. I and two others wanted to apply to the FCC for a AM radio station license back in the 70's. Besides the $25K+ for the building, equipment, engineering study and application fees we'd need to spell out in detail both to the FCC & bank our intended one year's operating expenses beyond those. Keep in mind this was almost a half a century ago!

Anyone who thinks $15,000 will get them where they need to go is playing a fool's game with these politicos. $15,000 wouldn't even be a good down payment on a home. This is nothing more then a publicity stunt aimed at those who have no clue what's involved and probably shouldn't go into a business in the first place if their that naive.

Anonymous said...

Just think 10 more mayoral photo ops., if he's still around.

Anonymous said...

Are the winners expected to make a $15k donation afterwards?

Anonymous said...

You're telling me these 15 new businesses with their $15,000 prize will be able to compete against the stores in the NIZ? Get out of here.

Are the new store owners going to get those reduced rents and brand new storefronts or are they subject to reality?



Anonymous said...

The winners are only required to donate 5k.

Anonymous said...

The stores in the NIZ can't compete with the average strip mall.

Dave said...

Where is the Matt Assad article about this new get rich quick scheme?

Nothing happens on Hamilton Street without an accompanying Matt Assad puff piece in the Morning Call extolling the virtues of the new Renaissance in Downtown Allentown and how wonderful this will be for our rebounding city.

Anonymous said...

Roll up
Roll up for the Mystery Tour
Roll up
Roll up for the Mystery Tour

The Magical Mystery Tour is waiting to take you away.....

George Ruth said...

I think $15,000 would buy a one-page ad (perhaps with color) in the Morning Call. And I thought liberals didn't like trickle down economics.

Anonymous said...

When you have 54,000 square feet of empty office space in a brand new building, that's a problem. Between all those buildings, that's a massive oversupply of office space.

I was floored that the Morning Call allowed that article to see the light of day.

Anonymous said...

@alfonso todd 7th street has long been a vibrant community, and guess what? Many of the recent improvements have been from grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and by the support of local government, foundations, and corporations; including: the City of Allentown, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, The Century Fund, Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Lehigh County. Individual businesses have been supported with such grants and it is working. I am proud and happy to shop and dine there! I'd rather see these small amounts of tax dollars support small businesses and communities than the billions that subsidize big business or the NIZ.

Anonymous said...

I can,t wait to see the spin put on this if they can't find 10 people to try this . I would like to know what and who they are looking for in the mosaic. Just the term suggests a quota system is in process.

alfonso todd said...

8:57 I know there were improvements but I am talking about the actual creation and founding of the businesses. It's the least the city could do is help with facade grants since many displaced businesses were sent there due to the arena and it is the entrance corridor to Allentown. Glad you like shopping and dining where many of us have lived and created for decades.


Alfonso Todd