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Weinberg Bill To Expand Loan Program For Small, Minority And Women-Owned Businesses Clears Senate

Measure Would Qualify More Businesses for EDA-Backed Loans

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg which would expand the eligibility for New Jersey-based small, women-owned, or minority-owned businesses to receive Economic Development Authority (EDA)-backed loans reserved for businesses in designated urban centers was approved by the Senate today.

“By expanding the already-working model of the urban center loan program to include more business owners, we can create and sustain businesses outside of New Jersey’s cities,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “In a climate where banks are more adverse to risk and less likely to lend to small and new businesses, these low-interest loans provided by the EDA often provide the only opportunity for small, minority- and women-owned businesses to grow.”

The bill, S-3066, would qualify small, women-owned or minority-owned New Jersey-based businesses, manufacturers, redevelopers or nonprofit organizations located in designated regional centers or Planning Area 1 of the New Jersey Development and Redevelopment Plan for any direct loans that the EDA currently makes available for small, women-owned and minority-owned businesses in urban centers.

Under the State Plan, there are nine designated urban centers, characterized by high population density and providing a focus for the region’s economy, transportation system and governmental functions: Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Camden, Elizabeth, Jersey City, New Brunswick, Newark, Paterson and Trenton. By way of contrast, the 12 regional centers – Ocean City, The Wildwoods, Bridgeton, Millville-Vineland, Woolwich, Princeton, Long Branch, Red Bank, Stafford, Salem, Bridgewater-Raritan-Somerville, and Newton – and the communities within Planning Area 1 – communities with strong ties to the New York/Newark/Jersey City, Philadelphia/Camden/Trenton and Easton/Phillipsburg Metropolitan Regions – offer more variety in terms of character and size, mixing residential, commercial and public use, but still serve as important economic centers for the surrounding area.

“This program already encourages redevelopment and economic revitalization in our state’s urban centers. It only makes sense to expand it to other economically hard-hit communities throughout New Jersey,” added Senator Weinberg.

While the current administration is in the midst of adopting a new State Development and Redevelopment Plan, New Jersey would continue to use the current State Plan until the Planning Commission can update the existing growth areas. Senator Weinberg believes that the state cannot wait until this process is complete before investing in and encouraging small, minority- and women-owned businesses to grow, creating jobs and revitalizing our communities.

The bill mirrors an earlier proposal which was vetoed by Governor Christie this past winter. The bill passed the full Senate by a vote of 38-0 and now heads to the General Assembly for consideration.

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