Rice Bill to Establish A “Manufacturing Business Assistance Program” Advances

Senator Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex, speaks during a meeting of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Ronald Rice that would establish a business assistance program for manufactures, within the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA), was approved today by the Senate Economic Growth Committee.

Under the bill, S-2395, manufacturing facilities located in areas zoned solely for one or more manufacturing facilities by municipalities would qualify for financial incentives and other assistance.  The bill would define and create “priority areas” where program resources would be focused.

“We need to create more incentives for manufacturers to bring their operations to New Jersey. The loss of manufacturing jobs has hurt the northeast and New Jersey, specifically, and it’s time we brought those jobs back,” said Senator Rice. “This will provide manufacturers the vital resources they need in order to develop and grow their business in New Jersey,” said Senator Rice.

To qualify, the area would be required to meet one of the following criteria: a) designation  in planning area 1 under the New Jersey State Plan; b) qualification to receive assistance as a rural center; or c) county average annual unemployment exceeds the state-wide average in the last calendar year preceding enactment of this bill.

The bill would require the EDA to provide priority assistance to the manufacturing businesses located in designated “priority zones.”  The bill would require the EDA to modify existing business assistance programs direct incentives to “priority area” manufacturing facilities.  Additionally, the bill would direct the EDA to coordinate with other state departments and entities to direct resources to “priority area” manufacturing facilities and determine other potential technology, financial, and workforce development programs that could serve such facilities.

The bill would also require the EDA to establish an advisory committee to advise and make recommendations to the EDA on the implementation of the program.  The executive director of the EDA would appoint advisory committee members, with six members representing the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce, the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey, the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and the New Jersey Asian American Chamber of Commerce. The advisory committee would hold quarterly meetings and produce an annual report, based on information on manufacturing businesses participating in the program, the functioning of the program, and the committee’s recommendations.

The bill cleared the Senate Economic Growth Committee by a vote of 5-0. It now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.