PATERSON, NJ- With crime rates dropping and economic development projects taking hold across the city, Mayor Andre Sayegh has clearly declared that Paterson’s highly anticipated renaissance is underway.
Included in these efforts, Sayegh told TAPinto Paterson, is making sure the city is making full use of all the tools available through its designation as an Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ). This, he believes, will be a key component in efforts to grow local businesses as well as attract new ones.
“Paterson’s past as a city that was a destination for visitors from throughout the region is also a key part of what’s to come,” Sayegh suggested. Repeating his common refrain that his goal as mayor is to add a new chapter to the city’s history he added that “from the Great Falls to the great food, and everything else we have to offer, I know that we have an even greater future”
New Jersey’s UEZ program was created in 1983 to help bring business to urban cities throughout the state. Run by the New Jersey Division of Community Affairs (DCA), the program encompasses 32 zones including Newark, Camden, Passaic, and, since 1994, Paterson.
Though most known for allowing businesses to slash their sales tax in half to about 3.3%, the zones provide a host of other benefits available to businesses including:
- Tax exemptions on businesses purchases such as equipment, expansions, and upgrades Subsidies on unemployment insurance for employees earning less than $4,500 per quarter
- Energy sales tax exemptions for manufacturing firms with at least 250 employees
- Financial assistance from certain government agencies
- A choice between of tax credits of either $1,500 for new permanent full-time employees or up to 8% corporate business tax credit on qualified investments
- Businesses availing of UEZ membership may also apply for loans from $10,000 to $50,000 to be used for working capital, inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery, and equipment.
According to Paterson’s Director of Economic Development, the office that oversees the UEZ, Mike Powell, Sayegh’s Administration is “putting the pieces together to make Paterson an even more attractive place to live, work, and play,” the central ingredients, he added, to a “healthy and productive community.” This is only possible, he concluded, by growing a base of businesses that the younger generation of urban dwellers want to see as an amenity to city living.
In addition to the UEZ’s toolbox, Paterson also offers its own specific incentives through the Paterson Restoration Corporation (PRC), which provides small-to-medium business loans to qualified business. This “Revolving Loan Program” can provide between $200,000 and $500,000 loans for certain projects including equipment purchases, and relocation or property development costs.
Using these wide-ranging incentives, Sayegh and his economic development team plan to bring capital into Paterson, and help keep current businesses in the black.
“We have local businesses that have been here for generations, and we are actively recruiting new businesses to plant their flag within our borders,” Sayegh said. “Where we can put dollars to work to help grow these businesses, and jobs, we are duty bound to do that as having a vibrant business community is vital to any top class city.”
Founded locally in 1987 Kontos Inc. is one of the most recognized and respected manufacturers and distributors of Mediterranean foods in the world. With over 275 employees, the company is also one of the City's largest employers, and, as a major player in their industry, certainly fits with the City's new slogan: Great Falls, Great Food, Great Future.
“What brought us to Paterson over three decades ago is a strong workforce and strategic access to major shipping hubs in Newark and and New York, which still exist today,” said Steve Kontos, the company’s co-founder and president. Those same factors, Sayegh himself has pointed out several times, are assets that Administration officials have keyed in on in early talks with potential future investors.
As for the importance of developing local relationships that extend beyond their bottom line Warren Stoll, marketing director for Kontos Foods, pointed to their receipt of the “Faith in Paterson” award from the Greater Paterson Chamber of Commerce in 2018 as a sign of their ongoing commitment to the city as a whole. With their ownership of three facilities in Paterson’s Bunker Hill section they’ve had to meet stringent requirements to conform to the “look and feel” of the neighborhood around them, something, he added that they welcomed because “that helps the community grow.”
Still, campaign speeches and plans often fall by the wayside under the weight of governing, a fact that Sayegh said he recognizes and is taking precautions to counteract. “There is no single policy or initiative that is going to put Paterson on the track we want it to be on,” he acknowledged. “That’s why I have insisted that the team around me, whether working in public safety, economic development, the DPW, or anywhere else, comes to work every day with the belief that if we are going to truly build one Paterson we are all in this together.”
For more information about growing your business in Paterson contact Penni Forestieri, UEZ Director, at (973) 321-1220 or visit their office on 125 Ellison St., 4th Floor.
TAPinto Paterson is proud to partner with the Paterson Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) to promote efforts to grow local businesses. Follow us on Facebook and sign up for TAPinto Paterson E-News alerts to be the first to read about them all!
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