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Business and Industry

Business and Industry

The city of Elizabeth is at the economic epicenter of New Jersey, a hub of transportation, shipping, industrial and retail opportunities. Businesses looking to invest in the city will discover an established and reliable network of public and private partners ready to assist with financial needs. The city’s lead development agency is the Elizabeth Development Company (EDC), a powerful and effective partner that is a “one-stop” shopping center for business development.

Doing business in the city of Elizabeth is easier and more profitable than ever. Opportunities for success are driven in large part by the skills and the vision of the Elizabeth Development Company. The EDC, a nonprofit economic development corporation with an independent Board of Trustees, was established in 1977 to help meet Elizabeth’s economic development needs. The EDC serves as a catalyst for economic advancement; it has earned state and national acclaim for both its highly successful Urban Enterprise Zone and its innovative community development initiatives.

Working in cooperation with Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, the EDC and its Urban Enterprise Zone program are driving the city’s economic resurgence. Since its inception, the EDC has helped generate more than $2 billion in new economic investments in the city that have put thousands of area residents to work.

For more than 35 years, the EDC has helped businesses and entrepreneurs succeed by connecting them with the financing and development tools needed to make projects move quickly and efficiently from proposal to reality.

The EDC and its staff are well-equipped to support businesses—both large and small—with virtually all of their needs, including: site location, financial assistance, tax relief incentives, access to quality job training, employment placement services and much more. When it comes to building strong, viable businesses in Elizabeth, the EDC serves as a complete “one-stop” shop.

The EDC has also expanded its role in redevelopment by taking a leadership position in revitalization projects throughout the city. The EDC has completed the successful renovation of a landmark downtown commercial bank and the development of new, affordable housing for senior residents in a vital city neighborhood with key nonprofit organizations in the city. The agency is actively assisting in the development of a range of additional projects.

The city’s award-winning Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) program offers major tax break incentives to businesses and developers, plus a reduced sales tax to customers. Elizabeth’s UEZ is a valuable tool for revitalizing neighborhoods large and small. Its innovative planning programs have also helped secure tens of millions of dollars in targeted state and federal tax benefits available to developers who pursue projects in specific city neighborhoods.

URBAN ENTERPRISE ZONE (Elizabeth’s UEZ) The UEZ program was developed by the state of New Jersey to help promote redevelopment in its urban centers. The goal of the UEZ is to advance sustainable growth by helping businesses succeed in city neighborhoods.

Since its inception, Elizabeth’s UEZ program has been a catalyst for more than $2 billion in new economic development in the city—fueling the creation of thousands of new jobs. These initiatives range from large-scale redevelopment efforts along the city’s waterfront, to more targeted projects revitalizing business districts in the city’s vibrant neighborhoods.

Elizabeth’s UEZ Benefits Include:

• Reduced sales tax—most retail businesses can charge customers half the state sales tax rate
• Sales tax exemption on most business-related purchases
• Corporate tax credits
• Unemployment insurance rebates
• Below-market rate loans

The 50 percent reduced sales tax benefit has provided over $150 million in additional funds for reinvestment into the Zone. This massive reinvestment included funding for additional police, elaborate streetscape beautifications and enhanced infrastructure improvements, as well as many other economic development programs designed to help businesses succeed in Elizabeth.

The EDC offers a wide range of financing, which provides flexible terms and below-market-rate loans for small to large businesses and commercial projects located within the city’s Urban Enterprise Zone. Projects can range from land acquisition and new construction to business improvements, new equipment and working capital.

The EDC received $35 million in New Market Tax Credit allocations in 2006 and 2007—the only allocations awarded to a wholly New Jersey-based community development entity. These funds, in the form of equity investment or below-market financing, are being used to support major retail and commercial redevelopment projects in the city.

Smart Growth is a term used by the state of New Jersey to describe well-planned, well-managed growth that adds new commercial and residential development, as well as the creation of new jobs, while preserving open space and environmental resources. Smart Growth is an approach to land-use planning that targets the state’s resources to enhance the quality of life for New Jersey residents. Smart Growth principles include mixed-use development, walkable town centers and neighborhoods, mass transit accessibility, sustainable economic and social development, as well as preserved green space.

To limit sprawl in New Jersey, Smart Growth prioritizes development and redevelopment efforts in communities with existing infrastructure networks such as Elizabeth. With a population boom of more than 10 percent over the last decade, Elizabeth is the quintessential Smart Growth success story. The city’s efforts to embrace the Smart Growth strategy have paid off.

The city of Elizabeth is ready to implement a comprehensive redevelopment plan for Midtown Elizabeth that will bring more than 1 million square feet of new commercial, retail and residential space to this vibrant center of commerce.

Twenty acres of the region’s premier real estate in Midtown Elizabeth are primed for targeted economic development that can leverage tens of millions of dollars in state and federal tax credits and incentives, as well as Urban Enterprise Zone benefits, to ensure its success. The area is also located in an Urban Enterprise Zone, affording it additional benefits.

A six-block stretch in Midtown Elizabeth located next to the Elizabeth train station and bordered by Union County College has been identified as the area’s best potential for new commercial development.

Three specific sites, ranging in size from two to three acres and all within one block of the train station, each can now be developed with as much as 300,000 square feet of office space with retail components, or as mixed-use commercial and residential space. Additionally, a 120,000-square-foot expansion of Union County College facilities has been completed along with the construction of a new 1,500-space parking deck, which includes 27,000 square feet of commercial space.

All three sites are located in the city’s Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit District, a state initiative available to developers in Elizabeth and other urban centers. The state passed the Urban Transit Hub initiative to encourage investment and job growth around transit hubs.

In Elizabeth, the Hub Tax Credit District provides an up to 100 percent state tax credit to corporations that make a minimum capital investment of $50 million in a project in Midtown Elizabeth, and create or retain a minimum 250 jobs in the city’s district. These tax credits are available to both owner/occupants and tenants. A lesser credit, 35 percent is available for mixed-use projects of a similar scope.

The Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program offers business entities a 100 percent tax credit against various NJ State taxes for investing in the revitalization of designated neighborhoods. Eligible neighborhood projects can receive up to $1 million annually to assist with pre-development and implementation costs. Elizabeth has two NRTC designated neighborhoods, one in Elizabethport and, more recently, another in historic Midtown.

The city of Elizabeth is situated in one of the most densely populated and wealthy regions in the nation, making for an ideal location for businesses to thrive. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, nearly 7.5 million people live within a 15-mile radius of Elizabeth, earning over $200 billion a year with an average household income of $80,000.

Immediate access to a far-reaching network of air, sea, rail and trucking facilities makes Elizabeth a premier location for moving goods and people around the region, the country and the world.

The Elizabeth Avenue Partnership (EAP) is a nonprofit organization created and designated by the city of Elizabeth to manage the Elizabeth Avenue Special Improvement District (SID). The partnership plays a key role in the management and marketing of the business district and has been instrumental in the resurgence of the popular Farmer’s Market in the area.

Elizabeth Avenue Partnership

The Historic Midtown SID is undergoing major economic revitalization, with the recent addition of several new major banks and restaurants to the district. The district management team has developed new initiatives and programs to support Midtown.

Other SID projects include multi-million-dollar streetscape improvements, continuing in both Special Improvement Districts. Both of these pro-active special improvement districts have been extremely successful in maintaining some of the lowest shopping vacancy rates in the region.

The Retail Skills Center is an innovative employment facility whose recruitment, training, customer service certification and job placement services can help businesses develop and retain an efficient workforce. Since opening, the center has served hundreds of businesses in the region and provided training for thousands of area residents. Today, the center operates in conjunction with Union County College, so participants can earn not only job skills, but continuing education skills as well.

In 1997, the Housing Authority of the city of Elizabeth received a $28.9 million federal grant to build more than 575 homeownership and rental units for low, moderate and median income households. The new units opened in Elizabethport and dramatically transformed the look, the feel and the lifestyle in the city’s oldest neighborhood.

This federal grant also leveraged additional public and private investment, totaling more than $100 million and further enhancing the revitalization of the Elizabethport neighborhood. The city opened the multi-million-dollar HOPE VI Elizabethport Community Center located on Second Street.

The $250 million project has moved forward with the completion of the Pedestrian Plaza and the Midtown historic train station renovations. A café operates in the train station located next to the beautiful Pedestrian Plaza. The Midtown area was designated by the state as a “Transit Village,” enabling additional incentives to help expedite surrounding redevelopment.

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