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Several Parts of the ‘Business Expansion and Jobs Plan’ that Would Streamline Grant/Aid Application Process, Revitalize Shopping Centers Given Legislative Support

Several bills sponsored by Assembly members Linda R. Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) and Wayne P. DeAngelo (D-Hamilton), as part of their seven-bill Business Expansion and Jobs Plan aimed at helping small businesses weather the current economic climate, were recently given legislative approval. The measures received strong bi-partisan support.

Greenstein and DeAngelo called the legislative action a sign of the importance of working to provide common sense proposals that can provide financial incentives for small businesses, improve local business districts, and increase accessibility of information for expanding small businesses.

“There isn’t a day to waste when it comes to providing simple and straightforward solutions for small businesses that are on the front lines in creating jobs and getting our economy back on track,” said Greenstein. “We are proud that measures we worked on with our local community business leaders have begun to receive legislative support. It is a testament to the need to work with those who employ so many people to reach our mutual goal of creating new, sustainable jobs.”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there were 27.5 million small businesses in the country in 2009. Between 1993 and 2009, small businesses created 65% of the new jobs created in this country — that’s 9.8 million of the 15 million new jobs

“As we drive around our communities, we see too many empty shopping plazas with ‘for rent’ signs in their windows for extended periods of time. It is a daily reminder that we need to work with the business community to help get people employed again,” DeAngelo added. “There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, but the recent approval of these measures is a step in the right direction toward revitalizing our own communities.”

The first Greenstein/DeAngelo bill approved (A-3195) would cut red-tape by requiring the Department of Treasury to create a uniform application for state business grants or loans. A “universal” application form would eliminate duplicative paperwork and forms that small businesses must complete when applying for eligibility under state financial assistance programs. State programs often require the same information about the small business which makes the application too time consuming for businesses owners who need to focus their time on running their business.

The second bill approved (A-3196) would help revitalize communities by offering tax credits for the redevelopment or improvement of distressed shopping centers. This bill directs the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to establish a program to certify taxpayers that make retail investments to redevelop partially or completely vacant shopping centers in New Jersey as eligible to receive a corporation business tax credit of up to $15,000, but not exceeding the amount of 50% of corporation business tax owed by the taxpayer.

The Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee unanimously supported A-3195. The Committee supported A-3196 in a 5-0-2 vote.

On Thursday, the Assembly State Government Committee unanimously approved Assembly Resolution 108 (AR-108), which urges the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the State Treasurer, and the EDA to launch a public awareness campaign to inform business owners and operators of the existence of the “Taking Care of Business” internet portal.

Greenstein and DeAngelo noted that the state operates numerous business assistance programs intended to help commercial enterprises survive, be profitable, and grow. Yet, many business operators and owners may remain unaware of these programs. To spread the word of their existence, the state created the “Taking Care of Business” internet portal as a one-stop location for businesses in 2006.

One year ago, Greenstein and DeAngelo created the 14th District Small Business Roundtable with local business leaders who worked with them to develop the ideas and concepts embodied in the Business Expansion and Jobs Plan. The assembly members are in the process of reaching out to local business groups and owners to receive additional input on the existing measures as well as listening to concepts for new legislation.

Other components of the Greenstein and DeAngelo “Business Expansion and Jobs Plan” package currently pending in the legislature would:

§ Provide Invest NJ grants to small businesses equal to 5% of annual base salary of new employees (Assembly Bill 3193)

§ Offer tax credits to businesses that purchase “green” business equipment (Assembly Bill 3194)

§ Expand use of traffic calming methods to slow traffic in business districts to attract shoppers (Assembly Bill 3197)

§ Improve communication with new and expanding local businesses (Assembly Bill 3198).