Assemblyman Reed Gusciora on Tuesday called on Gov. Christie to sign into law a bill that has been sitting on his desk for more than a month that would extend New Jersey’s Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) program by an additional ten years.
“I urge the Governor to sign this important legislation as soon as possible. The UEZ program provides valuable incentives to local, small businesses to operate in our state’s urban centers,” explained Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “It would be a huge blow against urban revitalization if this legislation wasn’t signed.”
A qualifying business stands to gain much from a UEZ designation. Benefits range from tax credits for new hires to tax exemptions for electricity and gas for manufacturing businesses. Most significantly, however, the state’s UEZ program allows businesses operating within certain designated areas in a municipality to charge 3.5 percent sales tax rather than the standard 7 percent rate.
“This reduction can be hugely attractive for customers and draw significant economic activity into an area. In Trenton alone, there are over 150 businesses registered for the UEZ program, and there have been over 800 since the program started in the mid-eighties,” Gusciora continued. “If they were to suddenly lose their tax credits and sales tax incentives, they could see their businesses disappear in front of their eyes. Those that survive would have to move to maintain their customer base.”
Gusciora’s legislation (A-2576) was approved by both the General Assembly and Senate in June with bipartisan support. Timely enactment of this legislation is critical as five significant UEZ markets – Trenton, Newark, Camden, Bridgeton, and Plainfield – are set to expire at the end of 2016.
“These are cities that have made a lot of progress recovering from urban decay and blight in the past five or ten years and that’s in large part due to the new businesses that they’ve been able to attract. If anything, we want to give these areas more opportunities, rather than taking them away. Gov. Christie needs to do the right thing and approve this bill. The program costs the state little and provides benefit to many. It’s a sound move, economically,” Gusciora finished.