Newark's popular Urban Enterprise Zone, which expired under Gov. Chris Christie's administration, is close to making a comeback.
Legislation co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin that would extend Urban Enterprise Zones for 10 years—including reviving the one in Newark—received final approval from the Assembly Thursday.
The bill, S-3549, previously cleared the state Senate and now heads to Gov. Murphy's desk. If signed into law, the legislation would reactivate five UEZs that expired: Bridgeton, Camden, Newark, Plainfield and Trenton.
“The UEZ program has produced a tremendous amount of benefits for many towns and residents throughout our state, including Newark,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “Given the results it has already provided and how many more towns could benefit from it, it deserves to be extended.”
Under the bill, qualifying retail businesses in UEZs may continue to charge and collect the state’s sales and use tax at one-half of the normal rate.
The bill also provides that, after dedicating 10 percent of UEZ sales and use tax revenues for administration of the UEZ program, the remaining revenues would be divided equally for UEZ purposes and General Fund purposes. The bill specifies that UEZ purposes are limited to economic development and job creation purposes.
The bill also requires the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to study the UEZ program and to submit to the Legislature a report and recommendations as to whether the program should continue as is, be amended, or expire.
The measure authorizes DCA to enter into an agreement with a third party to conduct the study and prepare the report, and requires the Commissioner of Community Affairs, after consulting with the State Treasurer, and prior to the first day of the twelfth month next following enactment of the bill, to submit to the Legislature the report on the Urban Enterprise Zone program and the department's recommendations as to whether the program should be reconstituted, continued as it currently exists, or continued with specific recommended changes.
The bill directs the New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zone Authority to fund the cost of conducting the study and preparing the report from the account maintained in the name of the authority in the enterprise zone assistance fund.
The UEZ Program - first created in 1983 - offers participating businesses incentives that encourage business growth and stimulate local economies.
Approximately 6,800 certified UEZ businesses participate and benefit from the advantages of the UEZ program statewide. These include a number of tax and financial incentives, including tax credits to hire local workers.
New Jersey currently has a total of 27 UEZ's in 32 communities.