TRENTON – Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic), chair of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee, released the following statement on today’s committee hearing held to examine the role of the state’s Urban Enterprise Zone program in participating municipalities:
“We know that we have tremendous economic challenges in this state.
“At the end of the day, the only way we can truly solve these problems is by incentivizing private sector investment. In towns and cities across the state, Urban Enterprise Zones are already doing that.
“Today we heard from dozens of mayors and local officials, from Newark to Millville, who told success stories of drawing major companies to their cities to reduce unemployment, of helping small businesses open their doors to boost the local economy and of carrying out beautification projects that brought shoppers back to their downtowns.
“We know this is a program that works.
“Perhaps some areas of the Urban Enterprise Zone program may not function as perfectly as we’d like. Quite frankly, nothing does.
“There are problems with healthcare, but we’re not going to close all of the hospitals; if there are problems with Urban Enterprise Zones, we shouldn’t dismantle the program.
“I am willing to sponsor legislation that will improve efficiency and increase accountability of municipalities and businesses participating in the program.
“But if we continue down the road that this budget is sending us, Urban Enterprise Zones will effectively cease to exist. We will have fewer jobs, we will have less economic development and we will have less business in the state of New Jersey.”