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(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Daniel Benson, Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano providing tax credit subsidies to small companies in the life sciences field as an incentive to create paid internship opportunities for college students was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-4094) would create “The New Jersey Life Sciences Internship Challenge” program, which provides a tax credit subsidy to small life science companies to establish a limited number of paid summer internships in the life sciences field for undergraduate students from New Jersey and undergraduate students attending New Jersey schools.

“This bill helps New Jersey students attain paid work experience in the life sciences field,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “These companies represent well-paying jobs for our graduates. By targeting smaller companies, we are helping them to grow and bolster this vital segment of our state’s economy.”

“It’s almost expected for college students to build up their work experience by participating in internship programs,” said DeAngelo (D Mercer/Middlesex). “This particular program gives our college students a paid option in a burgeoning field that offers good wages to its workers, while strengthening the companies that will one day be looking to hire the best prospects.”

“Many careers began with a well-placed internship. Unfortunately, not all college students can afford to take an unpaid internship,” said Quijano (D-Union). “This program affords them the opportunity of experience and a paycheck, and gives the participating companies the chance to cultivate these students to be the type of professionals they will want to hire after graduation.”

Under the bill, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority would administer the program and set the number of internships eligible to receive a tax credit subsidy each year, which may be up to 150.

The amount of the tax credit would be equal to the wages paid to the intern, up to a limit of 20 hours per week at $15 per hour, for a maximum of 12 weeks. The bill does not prevent a participating company from paying a higher wage to its interns or for hiring them for more hours, but any wages paid beyond the limit set by the bill would not be eligible for the tax credit subsidy.

Any life science company with a research laboratory within New Jersey may hire summer interns through the program, but only companies that have their principal place of business in the state and have fewer than 100 employees are eligible to receive the tax credit subsidy.

The students hired must be either New Jersey residents or full-time students at a college or university located within New Jersey, or have completed at least two full-time academic years at a college or university, or its equivalent in part time credits. Participating students must not have graduated more than one year earlier than the start of the internship.

The bill was released by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee.