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TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner extending the urban enterprise zone designation in all qualifying municipalities cleared the full Senate today.

The New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zone Program provides incentives to encourage businesses to locate to urban enterprise zones (UEZs) and create private sector jobs by providing public and private investments to create an economic climate that will revitalize those communities.

“Allowing the UEZ designation to expire would have devastating economic consequences on struggling cities and local residents,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “The UEZ has been an important tool for distressed cities to encourage business growth, stimulate local economies, and create jobs within the community. We need to extend the UEZ designation to continue to provide an opportunity for disadvantaged communities to not only attract new companies that bring jobs for local residents, but also to keep existing businesses and to keep our residents working.”

S-1080 would extend the designation of all previously designated UEZs for a one-time period of 10 years. The bill would specify that the 10-year extension of these UEZs be designated within 90 days of the date of expiration of their previous designation as UEZs. The bill would authorize qualifying retail businesses in the UEZ program to charge and collect the State’s sales and use tax at one half of the normal rate.

The UEZ designation in the cities of Bridgeton, Camden, Newark, Plainfield, and Trenton are all due to expire as of January 1, 2017. This legislation would extend their UEZ designations, as well as UEZ designations in all qualifying municipalities for a one-time period of ten years. This would allow all previously designated UEZs to continue their participation in the program, thus authorizing qualifying retail businesses in the UEZs to charge and collect the State’s sales tax at one half of the normal rate. Currently, there are 32 zones in 37 municipalities.

“We have seen how successful this program has been historically, and the significant benefits it has provided to dozens of municipalities across the state,” Senator Turner added. “Reauthorizing the zones is a first step. We must also work to restore the program funding to be recycled back into these communities and used for revitalization projects that will further boost economic development in these areas.”

UEZs are designated based on factors including high unemployment, low investment in new capital, blighted conditions, obsolete or abandoned industrial or commercial structures, and deteriorating tax bases.

The program was enacted in 1983 as a way to revitalize urban communities. In addition to stimulating businesses in distressed communities, the program provides local hiring opportunities by requiring businesses in UEZs to hire a percentage of full-time employees who live locally, are unemployed or receiving public assistance, or determined to be low-income. The program also provides funding for improvements in downtowns to help make the area attractive for economic development.

S-1080 cleared the Senate 25-13 and cleared the Assembly 52-26. It now heads to the governor’s desk.

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