NJEDA Launches Aggressive OZ Grant Program

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NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan

Tim Sullivan, CEO of NJEDA

TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority reports that it has launched a competitive grant program designed to support community efforts to attract investment in Opportunity Zones.

Grants awarded under the Opportunity Zone Challenge program provide financial and technical planning at the municipal and county levels related to the economic development of the Opportunity Zone.

The state of New Jersey has 169 opportunity zones that span 75 parishes in all 21 counties.

"New Jersey's Opportunity Zones have the potential to transform troubled communities that investors have overlooked for years into thriving centers of employment, economic growth and development," said Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who also serves as the Commissioner for the Department of Community Affairs. "The Opportunity Zone Challenge program is a key component of Governor Murphy's plan to equip local and county governments with the resources and tools they need to attract the right investors to their communities."

While the Opportunity Zone program was designed to focus capital flows and economic investments on communities that have faced economic challenges in the past, long-term investment shortages and strained local governments have made it difficult for many of the most needy communities to develop and close critical projects capitalize. The Opportunity Zone Challenge program is designed to address this issue by encouraging communities to develop specific plans to guide their pursuit of Opportunity Zone-based investments, state officials said.

“The Federal Opportunity Zone program is a unique tool that communities can use to drive long-term, transformative investments in the most underserved areas of our state and the United States NJEDA is committed to helping local communities and counties capitalize on the opportunities that arise, ”said Tim Sullivan, NJEDA's chief executive officer. "The Opportunity Zone Challenge program will accelerate community-led recovery in these areas by providing the resources communities need to catalyze investments in their Opportunity Zones."

The Opportunity Zone Challenge program awards five grants of up to $ 100,000 each [$ 500,000 total] for the selection of local, county or local government partnerships between two to five New Jersey municipalities, their Applications reveal a clear strategic plan for building investment capacity in their communities in opportunity zones.

As part of the grant application, applicants must prepare a proposal outlining the steps they will take to attract investment to the Opportunity Zone. Some examples are: preparing a financial or marketing prospectus to show investors the benefits of an opportunity zone; Implementation of a feasibility plan for a development geared to opportunity zones; or consider zone, code, and regulatory reforms to streamline the approval process in opportunity zones.

Proposals must include certain services that can be fully completed within six calendar months of the date on which NJEDA and the beneficiary enter into a grant agreement. As part of the application, applicants must also identify at least one strategic partner whose external expertise they will use to best achieve the objectives of the challenge.

The final plans that will be developed using grant funding for the Opportunity Zone Challenge are expected to be detailed strategic plans that will guide a community's approach to attracting Opportunity Zone investments. With the completion of these plans, local authorities will be better able to implement their strategies based on the community's unique needs and vision for long-term socially responsible growth.

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