The New Jersey Economic Development Authority announced the five Garden State communities that will be receiving grants through its Opportunity Zone Challenge Program, each receiving $100,000 to attract investments in the new OZs.
The five are:
- Cumberland County;
- Jersey City; and
“Working hand-in-hand with community partners is critical to ensuring Opportunity Zone investments have the greatest possible positive impact,” EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said in a prepared statement. “The Opportunity Zone Challenge facilitates the close partnerships between the NJEDA and municipal, county and local leaders that are critical to realizing each community’s vision for equitable, inclusive revitalization.”
The OZ program, co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), offers federal tax incentives to spur investment in underserved rural and urban communities. The program includes more than 8,700 zones in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories.
The EDA created the challenge to encourage communities to create specific plans for pursuing OZ investments.
“The five plans that will receive funding through this round of the challenge represent the kind of proactive thinking we need to not only address the challenges we face today, but also to lay the groundwork for long-term, sustainable economic growth,” Sullivan said.
The EDA received 22 applications for the first round of the challenge, which opened Aug. 1 and concluded Sept. 16.
Microbusiness lending program announced
The agency also announced this week that it is creating a pilot loan program that will provide financing to early stage and microbusinesses in the state.
The Microbusiness Loan Program will serve as the initial demonstration project for Gov. Phil Murphy’s vision of a public bank for New Jersey, the EDA said.
It will provide financing of up to $50,000 available to for-profit businesses in the state, providing them with working capital or to purchase equipment. Businesses must have annual revenues of less than $1.5 million in the most current fiscal year and fewer than 10 full-time employees, among other qualifications.
“The pilot phase of the Microbusiness Loan Program will expand the NJEDA’s reach to include smaller and earlier-stage businesses than we have traditionally assisted, while evaluating the potential long-term effectiveness of the program,” Sullivan said.
The program will last up to three years from the start of the application process, or until a total funding pool of $1 million is exhausted.