Business & Finance

Murphy, Oliver and Montclair Leaders Discuss Revival of Main Street and Neighborhood Preservation Progams


MONTCLAIR, NJ - Governor Phil Murphy visited Montclair Thursday to roll-out plans to restore funding for two of the Department of Community Affairs’(DCA) neighborhood improvement programs. 

The two programs, Main Street New Jersey (MSNJ) and the Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP), were designed to strengthen the economic vigor of New Jersey’s downtown areas and to encourage private investment in some of the state’s hard-pressed communities. Murphy’s proposed budget provides $3 million for these programs – $500,000 for MSNJ and $2.5 million for NPP.

Murphy invited several panelists of elected and local leaders to the Montclair Fire Headquarters for a roundtable discussion.

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Panelists for the afternoon discussion included Governor Phil Murphy, Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., Essex County Freeholder Brendan Gill, Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson, Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia, Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren, Montclair Center Business Improvement District President Phil Cantor, BID Director Israel Cronk, BID Secretary Lisa Johnson and Executive Director of Bloomfield Center Alliance Ollyn Lettman.

In welcoming the attendees, Jackson acknowledged the presence of members of the Township Council, including Councilor Renee Baskerville Deputy Mayor Robin Schlager, Councilor Robert Russo, Township Manager Tim Stafford.

Jackson said, "We're here today to take the opportunity to discuss and listen and share with other townships about economic growth and development and to hear what the Governor has to say." 

Murphy opened the discussion saying, "Today we are here to talk about two things Main Street NJ and Neighborhood Preservation. For whatever reason, these two programs have been set aside for decades and not funded by prior administrations. We're here to talk about reinstating these two line items back, considering that when they were in place they were of major importance and made a difference to communities." He added, "If we are going to grow as a state, we need to grow together as communities like Montclair, Orange and Bloomfield."

The proposed budget would restore $500.000 to the Main Street NJ program, along with technical assistance and historic preservation funding while seeking more money to assist small businesses with beautification grants. The funding will also provide opportunities for developing affordable housing, supporting new businesses and preservation. 

At one point in time, Montclair had a below 55% vacancy rate of development and has strategically decreased that number to 6% in 2017, and winning a Main Street NJ recognition since.

Murphy added,  "If we are going to grow as a state, we need to grow together as communities." 

In the past, $56 million dollars had been invested in the Neighborhood Preservation Program. However, the program was de-funded in 2010.  Murphy 's budget would put $ 2 5 million back in an effort to encourage new development such as affordable housing aiding small businesses and supporting community  programs spreading monies over a 3 to 5 year period with monies being disbursed.

Introducing Lt . Govenor Oliver who chairs the department  Community  affairs she commented :

" The Governor  wants this administration to be a positive one where it can say " Yes" these two programs  . The communities  here today are becoming major hubs so it's important  that NJ transit  be involved Monies in the amount of $ 293 million has been appropriated to invest into the transit system  tying in Main Street NJ  and Neighborhood preservation 

If we can't get the trains to run  on time in New Jersey  working with small  buisinesses  along the corridor  making it inviting for  others who use the transit system  fostering  growth 

The discussion  continued with each Mayor  and members of  the bid and  Bloomfield thanking Governor  Murphy  for recognizing  their towns  and  to show their support in the Govenors plan in restoring funds that would assist In maintaining Neighborhood  preservation goals   as well as the investing in small businesses  as major chains  and the Internet  appear to be forcing not only small  stores but corporate stores as well to fold 

In Closing the discussion  the  Governor  thanked all that attended  and reflected on the great diversity  of his cabinet  and opened the floor  for a few questions   pull back to his budget  ,bringing Amazon  to Newark and he and Lt Governor Oliver's commitment to education and 

.Joann Smalls  of Montclair Center Bid "Governor  Murphy  coming to Montclair  is important to hear and see  what can be done in  Montclair as well as other Communites as part of  Main Street NJ and sharing his  interest in assisiting and finding funding for  small businesses."

New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach today applauded Governor Murphy's call to reinstate Main Street New Jersey and the Neighborhood Preservation Program. The governor's budget would provide Main Street New Jersey with $500,000 to restart and enhance the program, and $2.5 million to restart the Neighborhood Preservation Fund. 

"Vibrant downtowns are key to strong, healthy neighborhoods that attract residents, and the Main Street Program has a long track record of success revitalizing downtowns. New Jersey Future is proud to welcome the return of both programs," said Kasabach. "Now is the time to engage the many stakeholders involved in downtown and neighborhood redevelopment to expand both programs' reach, build new public-private partnerships, and attract new resources to these efforts."
"Recent data show that healthy downtowns attract both Millennials and the employers who seek them. Investing in Main Street is investing in economic growth," continued Kasabach. "We were also pleased to hear Lieutenant Governor Oliver and several of the mayors present for this announcement note that many of the towns that will benefit from these programs are also transit hubs. Investment in transit service is another key to attracting and keeping people, particularly Millennials, in our downtowns, so all these initiatives are mutually reinforcing. We look forward to working with the administration to further these efforts,  and we encourage the Legislature to keep this vital funding in the final budget."

Governor Murphy and Lt. Governor Oliver to Revive Main Street New Jersey and Neighborhood Preservation Program

Proposed Funding for DCA Initiatives to Breathe New Life into New Jersey’s Communities

Montclair - Governor Phil Murphy and Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver today announced plans to restore funding for two of the Department of Community Affairs’(DCA) innovative neighborhood improvement programs – Main Street New Jersey (MSNJ) and the Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP) – to strengthen the economic vigor of New Jersey’s downtown areas and to encourage private investment in some of the state’s hard-pressed communities. Governor Murphy’s proposed budget provides $3 million for these programs – $500,000 for MSNJ and $2.5 million for NPP.

“For many years, New Jersey proudly had two programs that fostered economic growth partnerships – Main Street New Jersey and the Neighborhood Preservation Program. After decades of success helping communities throughout the state, both programs unfortunately were neglected during the previous administration,” said Governor Murphy. “By re-instating funding for these critical initiatives, we are demonstrating our responsibility as government officials to empower and strengthen our communities with the economic tools they need to ensure we are building an economy that lifts all families and residents.”

“Governor Murphy and I are committed to partnering with local communities to help restore and revitalize neighborhoods and downtowns throughout New Jersey,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. OliverCommissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.  “The resurgenceof Main Street NJ and the Neighborhood Preservation Program brings visibility to communities, encourages small business job creation, improves residents access to decent and affordable housing, and invites greater business and community involvement in economic development.”

“These programs assist municipalities in bolstering their business districts and neighborhoods,”said Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin. “I applaud Governor Murphy and Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver for their commitment to strong communities. This is the right investment for the people of New Jersey.”

“Preserving and restoring our neighborhoods enables local communities in Essex and Passaic Counties that I proudly represent to thrive,” said Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake.  “Governor Phil Murphy and Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver’s investment into the Main Street New Jersey (MSNJ) and Neighborhood Preservation Programs (NPP) will revitalize our neighborhoods, strengthening connections in our communities and creating new opportunities for the people of New Jersey.”

“Thriving downtowns are critical to the economic health and social vitality of nearly every community in New Jersey. A vibrant downtown not only attracts visitors and small businesses, but symbolizes the local quality of life and strength of the community. The Main Street New Jersey (MSNJ) Program brings local residents, officials, and businesses together to access new ideas and resources, and create a vision for revitalizing their central business districts. New Jersey Community Capital is proud to be a partner in the revival of a number of MSNJ communities. We have seen, firsthand, the power and impact of the program and commend Governor Murphy, Lt. Governor Oliver, and their team for restoring MSNJ,” said Wayne Meyer, President/CEO of NJCC.

“Vibrant downtowns are key to strong, healthy neighborhoods that attract residents and the employers who want to hire them. The Main Street Program has a long track record of success revitalizing downtowns, and New Jersey Future is proud to welcome the return of both programs,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach.  

Main Street New Jersey (MSNJ)

The resumption of funding for MSNJ in the amount of $500,000, will enable the State to once again support the renewal of historic downtowns, village centers, and neighborhood commercial districts by utilizing a comprehensive stakeholder-driven approach based on public-private partnerships.  MSNJ, which is part of the National Main Street Program, was established in 1989 and operated until 2017.

From 1990 to 2017, State-supported MSNJ efforts have leveraged more than $1.2 billion of private reinvestment in Main Street districts. For the last two decades, MSNJ districts created a net gain of 10,301 full-time jobs in 2,560 new and expanded businesses. Additionally, MSNJ local districts have supported more than 6,000 building preservation, improvement and construction projects, resulting in more than 1,700 downtown residential units at all affordability levels.

Additionally, Westfield in 2004 and Montclair in 2015 won the coveted national Great American Main Street Award for their outstanding downtown revitalization work. In 2015, the MSNJ program itself won the national Innovation on Main Street Award.

Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP)

The infusion of $2.5 million for NPP will be the first time the program is funded since 2009. The program, which operated for 34 years, provides technical assistance and guidance to participating municipalities for three to five years.

Municipalities involved in NPP are responsible for maintaining dedicated community development offices and staff to facilitate preservation activities and engage residents. DCA makes resources available to encourage small business job creation, improve affordable housing access, and invite greater business and community investment.

Over its 34-year history, NPP invested more than $56 million in 187 vulnerable neighborhoods in 20 counties. NPP has operated in densely populated urban areas like Newark, Jersey City, and Paterson as well as in suburban communities and rural centers like Collingswood Borough, Salem City, and Berlin Township. 

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