Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Eliana Pintor Marin, Raj Mukherji and Reed Gusciora to reinstate until Dec. 31, 2023 each urban enterprise zone (UEZ) that has expired – Bridgeton, Camden, Newark, Plainfield and Trenton – and require a report on the effectiveness of the program has been signed into law.
The law (A-3549) also extends until Dec. 31, 2023 the duration of each UEZ that is scheduled to expire before that date.
“The UEZ program has produced a tremendous amount of benefits for many towns and residents throughout our state, including Newark,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “Given the results it has already provided and how many more towns could benefit from it, it deserves to be extended.”
“Urban Enterprise Zones have been an integral part of urban revitalization for many years now,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Extending their designation will help many cities remain economically competitive while spurring job growth and economic development.”
“Over the years, the Urban Enterprise Zone program has helped attract both new businesses and consumers alike, and has helped revitalize cites struggling to reinvigorate once-thriving business districts,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “It makes little economic sense to have halted this momentum. By extending this designation, we can help these towns continue their renaissance.”
Under the law, all reduced-rate revenues collected within an UEZ, during reinstatement or extension, will be deposited in the general fund.
The UEZ Program – first created in 1983 – offers participating businesses incentives that encourage business growth and stimulate local economies.
Approximately 6,800 certified UEZ businesses participate and benefit from the advantages of the UEZ program statewide. These include a number of tax and financial incentives, including tax credits to hire local workers.
The law also requires the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to study the UEZ program and to submit to the Legislature a report and recommendations as to whether the program should continue as is, be amended, or expire.
The measure authorizes DCA to enter into an agreement with a third party to conduct the study and prepare the report, and requires the Commissioner of Community Affairs, after consulting with the State Treasurer, and prior to the first day of the twelfth month next following enactment of this bill, to submit to the Legislature the report on the Urban Enterprise Zone program and the department’s recommendations as to whether the program should be reconstituted, continued as it currently exists, or continued with specific recommended changes.
The report and recommendations must include an assessment of the following:
· the adequacy of past funding for UEZs in furthering the goals of the “New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zones Act”;
· whether changes are needed to address future funding for UEZs in furthering these goals;
· whether the criteria established for eligibility to assist fiscally distressed municipalities is appropriate; and
· what parameters should be established to keep UEZ municipalities competitive while providing a sufficient return on State investment.
The law directs the New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zone Authority to fund the cost of conducting the study and preparing the report from the account maintained in the name of the authority in the enterprise zone assistance fund.