Assembly Panel Advances Democrats Bill to Extend Urban Enterprise Zone Program to Bolster City Revitalizations

Gusciora, Burzichelli, Caputo, Fuentes, Wilson & Muoio Bill Would Extend Economic Perks to Participating UEZ Cities

An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora, John Burzichelli, Ralph Caputo, Angel Fuentes, Gilbert “Whip” Wilson and Elizabeth Muoio to extend the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) designation for participating cities for another 10 years so that they may continue to benefit from the economic incentives provided under the long-running program.

“Over the years, the Urban Enterprise Zone program has proved to be a great incentive to attract both new businesses and consumers alike,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Participating businesses benefit through a host of incentives like tax breaks on capital investments and consumers benefit through a reduced sales tax. Consequently, the program has led to the reinvigoration of once-thriving business districts and the wholesale revitalization of many cities.”

The UEZ Program – first created in 1983 – offers participating businesses incentives that encourage business growth and stimulate local economies. Approximately 6,800 certified UEZ businesses participate and benefit from the advantages of the UEZ program statewide. These include a number of tax and financial incentives, including tax credits to hire local workers.

“Without question, the UEZ program has helped reinvigorate towns like Bridgeton in my district through a host of benefits to both entrepreneurs and consumers,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “Extending this designation will help many towns continue their renaissance.”

The bill (A-4120) approved today would extend the UEZ designation for all participating cities for another 10 years after their current designation expires, thus continuing their participation in the program.

“Over the years, the UEZ program has helped create jobs and revitalize neighborhoods throughout a great deal of Newark,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “It’s produced a tremendous amount of benefits for many towns and residents throughout our state and deserves to be renewed.”

Qualifying retail businesses in the UEZs are entitled to collect only half of the state’s sales and use tax (SUT), an incentive designed to attract consumers because of the lower cost for the overall purchase of goods and services.

“With much of New Jersey still trying to rebound from the recession, keeping the urban enterprise zone program alive is important,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Incentives for businesses to establish, hire employees and grow are key to helping many urban cities truly recover.”

“For cities like Camden, the tools and incentives provided through the UEZ have helped bring hope when there might otherwise not have been any,” said Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester). “But there is still much more to accomplish, which is why the UEZ program must be extended.”

“This program has served as an engine for revitalization for urban areas throughout New Jersey,” said Muoio. “We’ve seen the progress it’s brought to a number of neighborhoods throughout Trenton, but there’s still more work to be done and now is not the time to abandon this program.”

Under the bill, 10 percent of the reduced rate SUT revenue would go towards the New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zone Authority, the state body that administers the UEZ program. The remaining revenue would be appropriated as follows over the life of the 10-year extension:

1) during the first three-year extension period, all of the remaining revenue collected would be appropriated for use by the UEZs in these cities;

2) during the second three-year extension period, 66 and 2/3 percent of the remaining revenue collected would be appropriated for use by the UEZs in these cities and the remaining 33 and 2/3 percent would be deposited in the state’s general fund;

3) during the third three-year extension period, 33 and 2/3 percent of the remaining revenue collected would be appropriated for use by the UEZs in these cities and the remaining 66 and 2/3 percent would be deposited in the state’s general fund; and

4) in the final year, all remaining revenue would be appropriated to the state’s general fund.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee, chaired by Gusciora.