NJEDA awards five $100K grants in second round of Innovation Challenge

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority has awarded five communities each a $100,000 grant as part of the second round of its Innovation Challenge, it announced Tuesday.

Last fall, nine municipalities were awarded $100,000 each as part of the first round of the program, designed to encourage communities to strengthen local innovation ecosystems in collaboration with higher education institutions and other partners.

“The robust and creative responses to both rounds of this challenge illustrate that communities throughout the Garden State are embracing Gov. Phil Murphy’s vision for making New Jersey the ‘State of Innovation,’” EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said in a prepared statement. “Strengthening local ecosystems where new ideas can thrive will have long-term positive effects that will impact the state’s entrepreneurs and small businesses for years to come.”

The five proposals that won awards in the most recent round, with details from the EDA, include:

  • Cape May County: County officials and local partners have proposed a project that will create an Entrepreneurial Resource Center to support the economic development plans of the county and local municipalities inside and around designated Opportunity Zones.
  • Hoboken: The city has proposed plans to team up with Stevens Institute of Technology, the Hoboken Public Library and Propelify LLC to launch a planning process for the creation of a coworking innovation center that will make the vital resources of space, mentorship, capital and community available to innovative practitioners and entrepreneurs.
  • Newark: The city intends to create a plan for the expansion of its technology infrastructure and to extend existing fiber-optic and wireless communication systems by providing street-level kiosks where residents can access the internet. The city will partner on the plan with the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Newark Community Economic Development Corp., the New Jersey Innovation Institute, Public Service Electric & Gas and iNeighborhoods.
  • Paterson: The city plans to work with Montclair State University, William Paterson University – Small Business Development Center and two long-term lessees at the Paterson Food Incubator site to create a business strategy that involves consistent training resources and workforce development opportunities for tenants at the incubator.
  • Plainfield: The city will conduct a technology-needs assessment of the community’s underutilized and vacant industrial and commercial properties. The goal of the assessment will be to determine the feasibility of creating a network of commercial, industrial and mixed-use corridors within the city so that it can be an epicenter of New Jersey’s innovation economy.

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