Newark to waive fees for outdoor events for rest of year

Effort is attempt to spur retail growth, add energy to city

Markets, street fairs, festivals and other outdoor activities that attract residents and visitors to neighborhood corridors for shopping and dining just got a lot easier to put on in Newark.

Mayor Ras Baraka, in an effort to bring more vibrancy to the city and as a boost to local retailers, announced Monday that Newark will waive certain permitting fees for outdoor special events and activities to be held through the end of the year.

City officials hope the effort will reduce the barrier to entry and make participation in outdoor activations easier for struggling local retail and food services businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Commercial corridors are central to urban life, and revitalizing them will be one key to Newark’s economic recovery,” Baraka said. “Outdoor activations create a safe, fun atmosphere to shop and dine locally. They draw residents and visitors to increase spending, revitalizing Newark’s business districts and introducing shoppers to businesses.”

In order to qualify, the event must be open to the public, benefit Newark residents and create revenue-generating opportunities for local businesses.

Newark will fund the program with American Rescue Plan Act funds. It is one of many initiatives that are part of Baraka’s Equitable Economic Recovery Plan announced in June. The funding addresses the negative economic impact of the loss of business activity due to government-imposed public health restrictions aimed at reducing the transmission of the virus, city officials said.

Baraka said reducing the barrier to participate in outdoor activations comes at a small cost to the city and can make a big impact for local small businesses and neighborhood pride.

Newark’s pandemic job losses have led to an estimated $60 million to $100 million of lost consumer spending. This has directly impacted local small businesses and the families that rely on them, even after factoring in government benefits. It has disproportionately affected local restaurants, and entertainment, apparel and personal services businesses.