One of the refrains that you hear again and again about the NIZ is that it is tax payer money being funneled by government to J.B. Reilly and other oligarch cronies. I don't deny that because of the NIZ, J.B. Reilly is going to be a wealthy, wealthy, man. But, there is nothing new about this.
For the previous sixty years, government policy and government tax dollars got thrown at the suburbs and subsidized the destruction of our beautiful farm lands and forests into dreadful McMansions. If you don't think private developers got rich from this suburban development you are kidding yourself.
Government (and law) creates markets on which private money plays. While the markets shift around, the fact that people get rich won't. What we should be asking is if the market that is created creates and maintains the best type of society.
And, here is where I think the NIZ really shines. Yesterday the Morning call announced that Donny Petridis is moving a new restaurant into the downtown to service the thousands of new white collar workers who are soon going to be working there. There is no getting around the fact that J.B. Reilly (who owns the building this restaurant is going into) and Petridis (the restraunteur) are wealthy dudes. But, the employees of these restaurants aren't going to be so wealthy. From the hostess to the waitstaff, to cooks, and dishwashers, this new restaurant is going to employ dozens of people at a living wage.
That is dozens of people working, having a sense of pride, off the government doll, off drugs, all the rest of it. Isn't this exactly what we have been saying has been needed in Allentown for decades? Guess what, its happening right now. Whats more, these smaller ma and pa type service industries which support the larger commercial enterprise are home grown. You can bet the majority of the staff are going to Allentownians and not poached from the 'burbs. What accounts for the change, what made these good things possible? The Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ).