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Changes to ‘Business Retention and Relocation Assistance Grant’ Program Would Help Preserve Jobs & Expand Business Investment in New Jersey

(TRENTON) — Legislation Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver and Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Chairman Albert Coutinho sponsored to revise and broaden the way financial assistance is handled under the state’s “Business Retention and Relocation Assistance Grant” (BRRAG) program was released Tuesday by an Assembly panel.

“We have long said that the best stimulus we can provide to the residents of the State of New Jersey is a job,” said Oliver (D-Essex). “Broadening the financial assistance portion of the BRRAG program will make it easier for businesses to reinvest and expand in New Jersey, which, in turn, will make it easier for them to create new jobs.”

“Expanding BRRAG is just one more way we are countering the myth that New Jersey is bad for business,” said Coutinho (D-Essex). “This program has actively encouraged businesses to reinvest in our state and the expansions included under this bill makes that process easier than ever.”

Under the Oliver/Coutinho bill (A-3389), the availability of financial assistance under BRRAG — which helps New Jersey companies preserve jobs, expand operations and reinvest in the state by providing tax credits for business that keep at least 50 jobs in the state that would otherwise have been relocated — would be expanded.

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Expand the definition of the “designated industries” eligible for the grant;
  • Expand the job retention grant from a one-time $1,100 to $1,500 grant for the number of jobs retained to a six-year award, in the same amounts, based on the number of jobs retained, e.g., a six-year award of $1,500 per job retained, per year;
  • Allow for an additional 50 percent bonus grant to be applied to any business that retains 2,000-plus jobs and invests double the amount they would receive in the tax credit. This would be on top of the existing $750 per job bonus grant currently available to businesses keeping 2,000-plus jobs in the state;
  • Create a “net benefit test,” in which potential grant recipients must prove that the state would see a net benefit from providing the tax credit, i.e., the anticipated tax revenue must be greater than the credits awarded under BRRAG;
  • Require that businesses maintain the relocated jobs in New Jersey for five years from the last year tax credits were awarded, essentially requiring businesses to keep the jobs in the state for 11 years if they wish to receive the full amount of the tax credits. For businesses that do not comply, a clawback provision exists to allow the state to recapture the awarded tax credits; and
  • Allow for a business to receive BRRAG awards even if it’s not relocating, so long as the business makes a capital investment equal to or greater than the total value of the grants to be received.

“The changes to BRRAG under this legislation continue the Assembly Democratic caucus’ two-year-plus commitment to keeping the businesses we have, enticing new businesses into the state and generally putting New Jersey’s economy back on the right track,” said Coutinho.

“As we’ve seen time and again, tax credits are a proven method of stimulating the economy and creating jobs, and these changes to the BRRAG program will ensure more of both continue to happen,” said Oliver.

The measure, a portion of the Democratic legislative “Back to Work NJ” effort to create jobs and economic development, was unanimously released from the Assembly Budget Committee.