(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Bob Andrzejczak, Gordon Johnson and Elizabeth Muoio to boost capital and investment opportunities for participating Urban Enterprise Zone businesses was signed into law on Monday.
“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), whose district includes UEZs in Millville, Vineland and the Wildwoods. “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 new law (A-4685) extends to municipalities in which an Urban Enterprise Zone has been designated the opportunity to benefit from the Downtown Business Improvement Zone Loan Fund program. The law removes language that currently excludes participation in the Downtown Business Improvement Zone Loan Fund program by municipalities in which an urban enterprise zone has been created.
“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), chairman of the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee. “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.”
“Businesses located in Urban Enterprise Zones are especially in need of money to fund redevelopment and rehabilitation opportunities to maximize their ability to assist in the improvement of the financial and employment conditions,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon), whose district includes Trenton’s UEZ. “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.”
Under the law, a UEZ municipality would adopt an ordinance establishing all or a portion of its zone as a special improvement district. The municipality will 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, will be eligible to apply for a long-term, zero-interest rate 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.
The legislation was approved by the Assembly on Dec. 3 and by the Senate, 33-0 on Dec. 18.