Turner/Cruz-Perez Bill to Reestablish and Extend UEZ Designations Clears Committee

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Bill extends UEZ Program in Bridgeton, Camden, Newark, Plainfield, and Trenton

TRENTON – Yesterday, legislation sponsored by Senators Shirley K. Turner and Nilsa Cruz-Perez, extending the duration of five designated urban enterprise zones (UEZ) where the program has expired, was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

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

“The UEZ has been an important tool for distressed cities to encourage business growth, stimulate local economies, and create jobs within the community,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “By reestablishing the program in these five municipalities, we will continue providing opportunities for these 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 employed.”

“These five cities have greatly depended on the UEZ program,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This program provides vast benefits for small businesses which are the backbone of the economy that maintains vibrant workforces in these places. Reestablishing the program is critical and the right thing to do.”

The bill, S-846, will extend the designation of all five previously designated UEZ municipalities that expired as of January 1, 2017. Under the bill, the UEZ designations in the cities of Bridgeton, Camden, Newark, Plainfield, and Trenton would be reestablished until September 30, 2019. The bill would also require the UEZ Authority to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the program and to issue a report on its findings on or before the date the Governor’s annual budget message is presented to the Legislature for Fiscal Year 2020 in February 2019.

Currently, there are 27 zones in 32 municipalities 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 and also 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. Furthermore, qualifying businesses get other financial incentives and access to financing options from the EDA.  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-846 cleared the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee with a vote 9-2. The bill next goes to the full Senate for further consideration.