As part of an effort to promote innovation and the development and redevelopment of an area through public-private partnerships, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats James Kennedy, Patricia Egan Jones and Nancy Pinkin establishing the “Innovation District Designation Program” within the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology was approved 77-0-0 on Monday by the full Assembly.
“Recognizing and designating certain zones as Innovation Districts will only spur further scientific and technological progress,” said Kennedy (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union). “Our goal is to transform New Jersey into a hub of innovation and encourage individuals, institutions of higher education, and the private sector to work with government to make this a reality.”
“Innovation district designation will help attract new businesses and a skilled workforce to these designated areas,” said Egan Jones (D-Camden, Gloucester). “These districts also will appeal to millennials who are drawn to areas that fit a ‘live, work, play’ lifestyle.”
“New Jersey has an extremely diverse workforce–an asset that will prove extremely beneficial in these innovation districts,” said Pinkin
(D-Middlesex). “In addition, these designated districts will help municipalities in their marketing efforts to be viewed as livable, sustainable communities.”
Under bill (A-5111) the Commission, in consultation with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the Department of Community Affairs and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, would identify criteria for an Innovation District as having:
· The presence of a higher education institution;
· Accessibility to mass transportation facilities and services; and
· Zoning or a redevelopment plan that permits mixed-use development.
The Commission would be responsible for establishing an application form and procedure for designation of an Innovation District. It also would work with the Department of Community Affairs to publicize the Innovation District Designation Program and provide links to the application form on their websites.
The bill cleared the Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee on March 11. A companion bill in the Senate (S-3590) has been referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee.