Mayor Ras Baraka has said since the height of the pandemic that he wanted to use federal relief funds to not just help Newark’s economy survive, but help it thrive moving forward.
On Friday, the mayor unveiled the Neighborhood Investment Program, which includes an $820,000 Request for Proposals for initiatives that strengthen Newark’s commercial corridors and help small businesses recover from the effects of COVID-19.
Applications are due by April 7. For more information, click here.
Baraka said the program, which will be administered by the Department of Economic and Housing Development, is a critical part of his $8.8 million Equitable Economic Recovery Plan
“Prior to COVID, some of our neighborhood retail corridors were in need of renovation. This investment will give our small businesses the support they need to expand upon their work and ensure that they not only recover, but come back even stronger.
“This collaboration of the city and experienced community groups is another step toward building a post-pandemic equitable future for our neighborhoods.”
Newark officials said the Neighborhood Investment Program will use federal funding from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act legislation and is part of Baraka’s Equitable Economic Recovery Plan, which was developed in collaboration with Bloomberg Associates, the pro bono consulting arm of Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Through this RFP, the city is seeking applications from community-based organizations with a history of serving neighborhood business districts in Newark. Organizations may put forward proposals in the following five program areas of neighborhood investment:
- Retail retention and vacancy reduction;
- Public space physical improvement;
- Events and public space programming;
- Small business outreach, engagement and support to improve performance;
- Financial planning and organizational capacity building.
Eligible respondents include, but are not limited to:
- Special improvement districts;
- Business improvement districts;
- Community development corporations.
Deputy Mayor of Economic and Housing Development Allison Ladd said the program has the potential to have great impact.
“Our neighborhood retail corridors are the lifeblood of Newark,” she said. “The Neighborhood Investment Program will fund real solutions developed and implemented in partnership with community organizations, which know our neighborhoods best.
“This is one of the largest investments the city has ever made to support retail corridors.”
Richard Cammarieri, the director of community engagement for New Community Corp. and chair of Newark Community Development Network, said he is encouraged.
“The nonprofit community development sector, with longstanding agencies throughout Newark, commends Mayor Baraka’s creation of the Neighborhood Investment Program,” he said. “Focused on collaborating with local community groups to help stabilize, support and grow commercial corridors is vital to the full and equitable development of neighborhood areas citywide.
“We appreciate the mayor’s commitment to working with community groups to forge a collective vision and the reality of an equitable city.”
Newark officials said they encourage applications that reflect the needs and concerns of the diverse communities that exist throughout Newark.