TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) is poised to launch its Brownfields Loan Program, an initiative that will make low-interest loans of up to $5 million available for projects that seek to remediate and redevelop sites that have sat vacant or underutilized for years.
Projects aiming to transform dangerous eyesores – such as abandoned commercial sites, shuttered factories, vacant lots, closed gas stations and former landfills – often encountered difficulty getting funding clean up properties, but the NJEDA said its new loan program hopes to address that challenge by filling in funding gaps.
Redeveloping these locations into more productive and valuable uses for the community is a key part of Gov. Phil Murphy’s goal to improve New Jersey’s economy and boost sustainability efforts.
Catherine McCabe, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said, “Remediating brownfields turns burdens into opportunities.”
“Projects like these are important to our environmental protection, environmental justice, and economic recovery goals, but need financial resources. The NJEDA’s Brownfields Loan Program will open the door to more successful remediation by filling in one of the most pervasive funding gaps that holds back these projects,” she said.
NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan has said it “is crucial for creating vibrant cities and neighborhoods,” as well as “stimulating economic growth.”
In 2019, the state expanded its brownfields and urban development efforts to nine communities, including Paterson, and has been working to assist municipalities to identify sites, clean them and figure out what’s next in terms of revitalization.
Through its work with the NJEDA, city officials targeted several spots ripe for redevelopment, including the Allied Textile Printing tract in the Great Falls Historic District, a former firearms, silk and textile factory.
Sullivan said the new program, combined with his agency’s other collaborations with the NJDEP, “will play a crucial role in building a greener, fairer New Jersey by incentivizing investors to consider brownfields remediation and making resources available to get these projects off the ground.”
"Brownfield dollars are crucial for former industrial cities like Paterson," that city's director of economic development said. "Deindustrialization and disinvestment has left several sites in the city derelict eyesores that are too costly to properly redevelop."
"With brownfield remediation funds and other tools at are part of the economic development omnibus, the ability to revitalize complex sites increases exponentially."
The newly-announced Brownfields Loan Program is part of a $14 billion tax incentive bill signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy last week.
The New Jersey Economic Recovery Act seeks to spur economic growth by providing tax incentives to companies for doing business in the Garden State. The measure restores and reforms two incentive programs to encourage redevelopment projects and job creation across the state, particularly in New Jersey’s urban areas.
The legislation is designed to provide an incentive to companies to clean up brownfield sites, rehabilitate historic properties, attract grocery stores to areas lacking them and invest in innovative projects.
New Jersey hasn’t had a business tax incentive program since July 2019, when the previous one signed under former Gov. Chris Christie in 2013 expired.
Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Paterson), one of the bill’s sponsors, called it “a path to economic rebound,” while Murphy said the programs will “not only provide much-needed economic relief” for small businesses but “will also fundamentally change economic development” and create “thousands of high-paying jobs” for New Jerseyans.
Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh was among the more than 100 officials who came out in support of the bill. “Having innovative economic development incentives that are accountable, equitable, and enticing are critical to ensuring the future economy of New Jersey," Sayegh said.
He added, “Quite frankly, it couldn’t come at a better time, as we are still fighting this pandemic. With these strong incentives to drive investment and balanced growth, we will position our state, and diverse communities across the Garden State, to rebound from one of the largest challenges of a lifetime.”
Also adding voicing their support for the package was Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis who said that it "offers a hopeful way forward for New Jersey" and is "needed to lift us up to better days ahead” while Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise predicted the new initiatives will lift New Jersey back to prosperity.
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