Fuentes Introduces Urban Scholar Revitalization Initiative

Measure would encourage recent college graduates to move to certain sections of Camden, Trenton and Jersey City

(TRENTON) – Last month, Assemblyman Angel Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester) introduced legislation that would provide incentives for recent college graduates to relocate to certain parts of Camden, Trenton and Jersey City, offering them up to two years of tuition reimbursement.

The bill (A-3223) is designed to attract young professionals to help stimulate local economies and create a stable work-force for local companies. Participants would enter into a two-year commitment to settle within a designated residential neighborhood in the city, at the end of which they would receive a tuition reimbursement of up to $7,000.

“Camden, for one, is an excellent location with access to major employers in Philadelphia and surrounding New Jersey towns,” said Assemblyman Fuentes. “It’s an ideal location for young graduates just starting out, and this program is mutually beneficial for companies looking to entice fresh talent.”

Similar programs are being launched in Kansas, Nebraska and Niagara Falls, NY to entice recent college graduates in order to bolster populations and attract educated young people. It is believed that strengthening populations of this demographic can greatly improve revitalization efforts.

The pilot is to be administered by the Urban Enterprise Zone Authority, because businesses that receive tax credits under the UEZ program would be entitled to receive additional tax credits for contributions made to the “Neighborhood Scholar Revitalization Student Loan Reimbursement Fund.” This way, businesses could recruit highly educated workers by offering the student loan reimbursement program as a perk.

“This program can also help prevent loss of human capital for these cities,” added Assemblyman Fuentes. “Students who leave these cities for higher education often don’t come back once they’ve earned their degrees. But if we give them a reason to return, they can be a part of the movement that helps rejuvenate their home cities. At the same time, they decrease their overall student loan debt. It’s a win-win.”

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Hunterdon/Mercer) who represents Trenton and Assemblyman Rubin Ramos (D-Hudson) who represents Jersey City have signed on as second and third prime sponsors respectively.