Assemblywoman Annette Quijano is urging her Assembly colleagues to unite in opposition to the Governor’s proposed dismantling of the Urban Enterprise Zone program in the FY 2012 budget.
The UEZ program, which has existed since 1983, boasts Elizabeth as one of its first and most successful participating municipalities. However, a 2010 report commissioned by Governor Christie recommended the elimination of the program, and a letter outlining the dismantling of the program was sent out to each of the 38 participant municipalities on April 7.
“While the UEZ program has seen mixed results in some districts, it is wildly successful in Elizabeth,” asserted Quijano (D-Union). “Furthermore, the rate of minority business ownership in UEZ municipalities is 23 percent, whereas it is only nine percent statewide. In Elizabeth, more than 33 percent of all business are Hispanic-owned. Eliminating the incentives and benefits that these zones provide will have a disproportionately negative effect on minority business owners, especially here in Union County.”
The Assemblywoman pointed to new Department of Labor statistics which highlight a disparity in the employment rates of minorities and the overall unemployment rate in New Jersey.
“After reading the findings in this month’s Labor Department report, it is abundantly clear that the elimination of the UEZ program will be harmful to the communities which are suffering the most from high unemployment levels,” added Quijano. “Urban Enterprise Zones are so important to the communities where they have been implemented. It would be nothing short of tragic to dismantle this program in cities where it has been as successful as it has been here in Elizabeth. If there are problems with the program, I think it would be far more beneficial to fix them and strengthen UEZ’s, instead of scrapping the program altogether. I just want to make sure everybody realizes the full extent of the implications that the elimination of the program will have before we begin the dismantling process.”