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Business and Industry

Poised for a new decade of continued progress and economic growth at the beginning of this, the 21st Century, Lakewood Township takes great community pride as an economic development leader in Ocean County and the region.

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The year 2009 and beyond presents even greater prospects for the Township and the myriad of businesses and industries, which sustain the community’s economic vitality. Job creation and job retention remain the single goal of the Towship’s effort. Attracting new business and industry and encouraging commerce remain the means to that end.

The Lakewood Industrial Commission, established in 1960, guided a pioneer effort to refocus the Township’s economy. A vision to commit vast acreage of Township-acquired land served as a strategy for the creation of a ‘light’ industrial park in the mid 1960s. Today, more than 300 mid-size businesses and industries occupy the original campus, the state’s second-largest industrial campus areas, as testimony to that vision. More than 12,000 employees find a livelihood from the gainful employment provided by the commercial enterprises that have chosen Lakewood as their place of business.

The 1990s brought other innovations to the Township’s economic development efforts including the designation as an Urban Enterprise Zone. The designation permitted retail outlets to grant a reduced 3.5 percent sales tax to consumers who choose Lakewood as their shopping destination.

GLI Building

The return to certified Lakewood UEZ business has been equally rewarding in the form of tax incentives for expansion as well as job creation. Since its inception, Lakewood UEZ businesses have reinvested $151 million, creating 2,400 jobs in this locale. The Township’s UEZ status has also provided for $24 million of a projected $58 million in sales tax revenue dedicated to Lakewood UEZ Projects, encouraging economic development and community improvement.

The UEZ initiatives are guided by the community-based Lakewood Assistance Loan Program, in joint participation with area financial institutions, and are available to certified UEZ businesses. Already, $26 million has been provided in support of $5.2 million in lending under this program. Direct UEZ-sponsored economic development low-interest Project Loans have provided another $4.5 million to job creation, business expansion or relocation in Lakewood.

Lakewood’s innovative “Job Link” Network project and transportation service brings employers and employees together; helping to provide a stable, reliable employment atmosphere.

Since its inception, UEZ public service-sponsored projects have provided nearly $2.5 million in support of Township safe streets and public safety efforts.

Redevelopment acquisitions, such as the historic downtown Strand Theater project, are aimed at revitalizing Lakewood—a Township in renaissance.

Lakewood’s new 6,500-seat FirstEnergy Park, home to a Major League affiliated franchise, is adding to the excitement. The Development Corporation, at the direction of the Township Committee, managed the construction and operation of the site supported by UEZ funding.

The Township’s economic development endeavors also recognize the region’s role in the high-tech and global economy of the future. The development of the Cedarbridge Corporate Campus “West” and the initializing of a Foreign Trade Zone administration are the most recent components of Lakewood’s great regional tradition as a leader in business and commercial activity.

Lakewood Township’s economic development story has always been about the future; a future of economic vitality and promise. It is Lakewood’s story today, in this, the 21st Century.

Russel K. Corby is Director of the Lakewood Department on Economic Development.

THE URBAN ENTERPRISE ZONE

Whether it’s around the corner, down the street or across town, Lakewood has a variety of stores and shops geared to suit all your “shop-till-you-drop” needs. The bustling downtown area plays a key role in the eclectic mix of businesses that have stood for generations and grown with the Township to newer ventures offering all the modern amenities. Lakewood is the hub of commerce whose strength lies in its diversity. What these businesses all share in common, though, is convenient accessibility, friendly owners and a dedication to prosper, both economically and as a community.

This is especially evident in the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ). More than 350 Lakewood companies take part in this innovative program offering tax exemptions on business products and services, hiring incentives that benefit the community and discounts to businesses’ customers through a reduced sales tax. Businesses that participate in the Lakewood UEZ program have the chance to reduce operating costs through the opportunity to purchase many business products and services, such as office machines, janitorial services and uniforms, free of state sales tax. This is essentially a six percent discount on the regular cost of these items. UEZ businesses that retail tangible personal products may do so at the reduced New Jersey Sales Tax of 3.5 percent. The reduced tax is an attractive feature to cost-conscious consumers. When it’s time for a business to borrow money, a quality UEZ business will be able to apply for a reduced rate loan. Often, the reduced rate is at the Prime Rate or below. Finally, a UEZ business that hires workers who meet program eligibility criteria may be able to realize a New Jersey Corporate Income Tax Credit of $500 or $1,500.

The economic well-being of the Lakewood community is also enhanced through business participation in the UEZ program. The Lakewood UEZ program strongly encourages UEZ businesses to meet a job creation quota (usually one additional full-time person) with Lakewood residents. Thus, job opportunities for Lakewood residents increases and everyone in the community benefits.

Lakewood is a community built on the strength of its diverse population. Similarly, Lakewood’s businesses are not defined by any one interest or specialty. Businesses that participate in the UEZ program are benefiting from the economic opportunities of Lakewood, as is solidly reflected in the flourishing business environment.

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