NEW BRUNSWICK - Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday that the U.S. Department of Treasury has approved New Brunswick as one of 169 recommended designations for Opportunity Zones throughout the Garden State.

The Opportunity Zone Program is designed to drive long-term capital investments into low-income rural and urban communities. There are 75 municipalities in the state that have a portion of property deemed an Opportunity Zone.

“I’m pleased the Treasury Department has accepted all 169 sites I proposed last month for designation as Opportunity Zones,” Murphy said.  “Now, these cities and towns will have additional means to generate economic growth throughout their respective communities and, more importantly, create economic opportunities for their residents.”

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Under federal legislation, eligible Opportunity Zones were census tracts with a poverty rate of 20 percent or a median family income up to 80 percent of the area median. Murphy was authorized to designate up to 25 percent of the state’s eligible low-income census tracts (up to 169 tracts) as Opportunity Zones. 

Designated census tracts reflect key economic indicators (e.g. income, unemployment rate, property values) that also take into consideration geographic distribution, access to transit, and the value of existing investments, including those encouraged by state programs and incentives.

“New Jersey is committed to using every tool at our disposal to develop our communities and grow our economy,” Murphy said. “This program provides real opportunity for our state that has the potential to create significant, long-term economic development in the communities that need it the most.”

The Opportunity Zones program, written into the tax-reform law, had been sponsored as legislation by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC). The hope is more private investors will funnel money to New Brunswick through this newly-created program.

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