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Benson Bill to Encourage Job Creation & Economic Development in Small, Highly Developed Municipalities Advanced by Assembly Committee

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson sponsored to encourage job creation and business development in small, highly developed municipalities was advanced Monday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-4521) establishes the Main Street Economic Growth Program to provide financial and technical assistance to a business located in a Main Street area within a small municipality.
The bill’s purpose, said Benson, is to encourage business development in small municipalities having substantially developed commercial areas.
“Many municipalities in this state having small populations with substantially developed commercial areas face considerable obstacles in fostering new jobs and business growth,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “To make matters tougher, they often do not qualify for assistance offered by the state’s municipal and business assistance programs.”
Benson said the bill recognizes the difficulties faced by these municipalities and businesses.
“It’s in the long-term economic interest of this state to establish an economic development incentive program to encourage business growth in the commercial areas of smaller and substantially developed municipalities,” Benson said. “With this bill, the local economy of these municipalities will grow and thrive.”
The bill authorizes the governing body of a municipality having a population of less than 10,000 that is more than 85 percent developed to designate a “Main Street area” in the municipality. In designating a “Main Street area,” the governing body would set forth findings on the economic conditions existing in the area and the municipality’s intentions for addressing them.
For a business to be eligible to receive financial and technical assistance from the Economic Development Authority under the program, at least 25 percent of full-time employees of the business must reside within the small municipality.
The EDA is to work cooperatively with other state agencies to explore and implement opportunities to direct resources and create enhanced incentives for area businesses participating in the program.
The bill provides corporation business tax credits and gross income tax credits for businesses located in a Main Street area within a small municipality that meet the criteria and participate in the program as determined by the EDA.
The credits are equal to 15 percent of the cost of employee compensation expenses related to meeting the employment criteria under the definition of an area business under the bill.
To provide funding for the program, the EDA is to create the “Main Street Economic Growth Assistance Fund” for the purpose of providing loans, loan guarantees, and technical assistance to area businesses located within a small municipality. The terms of a loan or loan guarantee and the amount of technical assistance is to be at the discretion of the authority based on the monies made available by the authority for the purposes of the fund. The EDA may make monies available for the purpose of the fund from monies received by the EDA from any public or private sources.
The bill requires the EDA to issue an annual report to the governor and Legislature on the program and to adopt rules and regulations to implement the program.
The bill was released by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee.