Biden touts Allentown’s comeback, funding for local projects

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and President Joe Biden sitting in the presidential limousine at the Lehigh International Airport on Jan. 12, 2024. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Sean Kitchen

January 12, 2024

President Joe Biden returned to Pennsylvania on Friday to highlight his economic achievements and how they delivered for the Lehigh Valley. Pennsylvania has received over $21 billion in funding from Biden’s key legislative accomplishments.

President Joe Biden touted his administration’s economic agenda and achievements in the Lehigh Valley on Friday.

Biden landed at the Lehigh Valley International Airport Friday afternoon and was greeted on the tarmac by Gov. Josh Shapiro, US Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania), and Allentown Mayor Matthew Tuerk. Following that Biden, Shapiro and Casey toured businesses in the Allentown area.

“The city of Allentown and the Lehigh Valley is a dynamic economy, and the way that [Biden’s] investments have been made into municipal governments has been awesome,” Tuerk said in an interview with The Keystone. “The investments that they’ve made have helped us recover in a lot of different ways, and we’re grateful for a president that understands the needs of mayors.”

Biden’s trip to the Allentown region serves as a symbolic gesture because the airport was one of the first projects to receive money from the president’s landmark Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The airport received $5 million from the federal government to help modernize its terminal and install four new security checkpoint lanes to help improve travelers’ experiences.

This is Biden’s second trip to Pennsylvania since the start of the new year, and it only underscores Pennsylvania’s importance as one of the top swing states in the country ahead of this year’s presidential election. The president was in Montgomery County last Friday to talk about the dangers former President Donald Trump poses to American democracy.

Biden kicked off his 2024 reelection campaign at the Philadelphia Convention Center in May with union workers and labor leaders from around the country and has traveled to the commonwealth 21 times since taking office in 2021.

Pennsylvania has received over $21 billion in federal funding from Biden’s major first-term legislative achievements. This includes $13.8 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and $7.3 billion from the American Rescue Plan. The commonwealth also received $300 million in semiconductor investments from the CHIPS and Science Act.

Allentown and the surrounding Lehigh Valley have witnessed a bit of an economic resurgence under this administration compared to Trump’s administration.

Since Biden took office, Allentown’s unemployment rate is down to 3.9%, a 20-year low. The city has also added 32,000 jobs and residents have seen their personal income increase by 3%, after adjusting for inflation, compared to before the pandemic.

Money from Biden’s key legislative accomplishments have been flowing into the Lehigh Valley. On top of the $5 million in funding for the Lehigh Valley International Airport, the region received $22.5 million to fix the Cementon Bridge and $2.8 million to fix the Indian Trail Bridge. The city of Allentown was also able to invest $2.3 million in a new fire training facility and emergency operations center.

“I mean [the] [American Rescue Plan] was the first of those, which helped us make investments in storm sewer linings, make investments in critically needed services to provide ongoing support to our residents investments. We built a new fire academy and emergency operations center with our [American Rescue Plan] money,” Tuerk explained.

Casey was eager to welcome Biden back to the region given how competitive it will be for Democrats in 2024.

“It’s always great to have the president here,” Casey said in an interview. “We’re in a region where the vote in 2024 will be up for grabs and it’s a competitive region. So it’s important that he’s here and I’m here because we’re both on the ballot.”

The senator then stressed the importance for Democrats to combat corporate greed.

“I think it’s vitally important that Democrats focus on the real life that families are dealing with every day when they go to the grocery store or have to pay higher costs, ” Casey said. “Meanwhile, the other party has just been focused on giving corporate tax breaks.”



Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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