Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Bob Andrzejczak and Gordon Johnson to help boost capital and investment opportunities for participating Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) businesses was approved by an Assembly panel this week.
The measure was introduced in response to the Christie administration’s current policy of ending UEZ funding support for municipalities.
“For decades, the UEZ program has provided a shot in the arm for struggling urban cities by helping both new and established businesses grow and flourish,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “With the administration ceasing funding for the program, we need to find creative ways to help participating businesses prosper and, in turn, help rebuild their communities.”
The bill (A-4685) would eliminate the restriction that currently bars municipalities with UEZs from participating in the Department of Community Affair’s Downtown Business Improvement Zone Loan Fund program.
“One of the main reasons businesses are initially attracted to participating in the Urban Enterprise program is because of the available funding opportunities for redevelopment, rehabilitation and growth,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “By investing in their own businesses, they help improve the financial and employment conditions within the urban enterprise zone and the city as a whole.”
Specifically, the bill would remove language from the law that currently excludes UEZ municipalities from participating in the Downtown Business Improvement Zone Loan Fund program. Under the bill, a municipality would still be required to adopt an ordinance establishing all or a portion of its urban enterprise zone as a special improvement district. The municipality would then have to adopt another ordinance designating all or a portion of that special improvement district as a downtown business improvement zone.
The district management corporation for the special improvement district, in partnership with the municipality that created the special improvement district, would be eligible to apply for a long-term, zero-interest loan from the Downtown Business Improvement Zone Loan Fund for specific purposes and expenses relating to the redevelopment and rehabilitation of property within the designated business improvement zone.
“These redevelopment and rehabilitation activities will directly benefit businesses operating within the downtown business improvement zone and should be an effective way of transforming the loans into greater employment and business activity within that zone,” added Andrzejczak.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee on Monday.