COUTINHO BILL TO FURTHER BOOST ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT THROUGHOUT NEW JERSEY APPROVED BY ASSEMBLY

(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Albert Coutinho to update the landmark New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act of 2009 and further help spark New Jersey’s economic growth and job creation was approved 57-14-2 Monday by the Assembly.

“Democrats took a broad approach last year toward jumpstarting local economic development projects and creating new jobs, but we have more work to do and this bill is a step toward that goal,” said Coutinho (D-Essex), chairman of the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee. “This takes New Jersey closer to building a stronger economy for our businesses and workers as we fight through this recession and best position New Jersey to succeed.”

The bill (A-2059) would help facilitate Montclair State’s plan to build a 2,000-unit housing and dining complex.

“This will mean 1,300 construction jobs and more than $130 million in work for contractors and subcontractors,” said Coutinho, who was also the prime sponsor of the 2009 economic stimulus bill.

It would also help facilitate the $2 billion Revel development project in Atlantic City, which involves a 1,900-room casino hotel. This project would create $134 million per year in state and local revenues and 11,000 construction and permanent jobs.

“This is a crucial investment in making Atlantic City the top gaming destination in the region and allowing it to stay competitive nationwide,” Coutinho said. “A successful Atlantic City equals jobs and a thriving economy.”

The bill would modify the New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act of 2009 to ensure that it can be implemented effectively. The bill would:

  • Amend a provision that allows a state or county college to enter into a contract with a private entity to assume full financial and administrative responsibility for construction or improvement of a project on campus, provided that the private entity finances the project and the state or institution retains ownership of the land. The bill amends that section to provide that a project would be eligible as a public-private partnership if the project benefits or enhances the institution although the project doesn’t specifically involve a building, structure or facility of the college.
  • Authorize another public entity to become the owner or lessee of the project, the lessee of the land or both, and to issue indebtedness in accordance with that public entity’s enabling statute.
  • Under current law, a project must be submitted to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority for its review and approval within nineteen months of the law’s original effective date of July 28, 2009. This bill removes this time limit on the submission and approval of projects.
  • Clarify that ordinances adopted by municipalities to approve state incentive grants for developers also seeking municipal incentive grants would not be subject to possible impediment through the referendum process. State law already provides that redevelopment ordinances under the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law are not subject to initiative or referendum.
  • Add to the definition of “qualifying economic redevelopment and growth grant incentive area” a Pinelands regional growth area established pursuant to the Pinelands comprehensive management plan.
  • Permit a municipal redeveloper to construct ancillary public improvements and receive reimbursements for the full costs of those improvements that are located in the public right-of-way, but outside of the project area of a redevelopment project. These provisions are needed to ensure that the infrastructure improvements, particularly road, bridge, and tunnel improvements, located on site or off-tract of the redevelopment project and are essential for the success of the project, are eligible for full reimbursement.

The New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act of 2009 spearheaded by Coutinho placed a moratorium on a 2.5 percent nonresidential development fee, revamped the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program, created a new Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant program to allow towns to finance redevelopment efforts and allowed state colleges and universities to partner directly with the private sector to build new campus infrastructure.

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