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Coutinho Unveils Sweeping Economic Development Incentive Reform Legislation
Measure Designed to Create Jobs & Spark Economic Development(TRENTON) - Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Chairman Albert Coutinho on Tuesday announced he's introduced legislation to boost New Jersey's job creation efforts by revamping and streamlining the state's economic development tax incentives.
The sweeping bill (A-3680) would merge five state tax-incentive programs into two, with one focused on job creation and the other on economic development.
"Our tax incentive programs have been invaluable to our state's economic development planning, but - with five programs with varying goals - we clearly need to streamline these programs and make it easier for businesses to understand and take advantage of them," said Coutinho (D-Essex). "We want businesses to bring new jobs to New Jersey and preserve the ones they already provide."
The bill, the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, expands two economic development incentive programs administered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
The Grow New Jersey Assistance Program would be the state's premiere business attraction and retention incentive.
"It would be built to better match or surpass the financial incentive packages being offered by neighboring and other competing states, while also providing bonuses to drive development to smart growth areas in the state," Coutinho said. "This is vital for job creation in a state where we've seen an unemployment rate hovering near 10 percent. We need to do better."
The Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant program would be the state's sole redeveloper incentive.
"This program would help more readily close project financing gaps and build public infrastructure critical to redevelopment projects, while also providing bonuses to achieve public policy objectives, such as bringing fresh produce to urban food deserts and rebuilding tourism destinations that were destroyed due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy," Coutinho said. "Let's make it easier to create jobs and economic growth while accomplishing some of our major policy goals."
The bill phases out the provisions of the Business Retention and Relocation Assistance Grant Program, the Business Employment Incentive Program and the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Program.
Coutinho said he's had in-depth discussions with developers, business organizations, labor unions and planning groups as he's finalized the bill, which was introduced Monday and referred to the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee chaired by Coutinho.
"This is the start of our public debate on these ideas," Coutinho said. "We need to improve upon our current policies and make it easier to create and preserve jobs in New Jersey. We need to do better, and this sweeping reform will go a long way toward creating new jobs in our state."
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