(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo, Nancy Pinkin, Cleopatra Tucker, Bob Andrzejczak, Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. and Bruce Land to ensure the economic vitality of New Jersey's military bases was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-2516) would allow the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to offer reduced interest rate loans to small businesses to encourage and incentivize investment in innovative projects related to the missions and operations related to the missions and installations in the state.
The bill hopes to protect New Jersey's military installations, after the federal government announced the closings of additional military facilities across the country last year.
"Sitting back and hoping that our bases are spared is not an option. These bases are economic drivers and any closure would be detrimental to the state," said DeAngelo (D-Middlesex/Mercer). "This would help promote business development around New Jersey's military installations, which would help make our bases more attractive for future missions and expansion."
New Jersey's military installations provide 45,631 direct jobs and 27,603 indirect jobs. They add $3.8 billion in gross domestic product directly and $2.7 billion in GDP indirectly to New Jersey's economy.
"Our state's military installations are huge economic engines for our state," said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). "If we do not do what is necessary to sustain them and grow the businesses connected to them, we risk a dire blow to our state's economy."
"The closure of a military base would be costly to the state and the community where the base is located," said Tucker (D-Essex). "Strengthening businesses that are near and cater to these installations can help ensure their vitality."
"These installations are important to our economy," said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). "By providing incentives for business development around these bases, we can help the state's military instillations remain intact and avoid any hits on our economy."
"Many communities rely on the jobs and services provided by military bases," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "Oure economy is still in recovery mode and cannot afford to take the type of hit that the closing of a military base would cause. Protecting our bases is in our best economic interest."
"The closing of any of the bases means job loss and a decrease in state revenue," said Land (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). "By ensuring that there is a strong business community supporting our bases, we can make a better case for keeping them open and running."
The authority would provide these reduced interest rate loans to small businesses for projects involving science, technology, engineering, math or research and development that are related to and supportive of the missions and operations of a military base in the state, and will be located within a five mile radius of the outer boundary of the base.
The incentives under the bill include:
· business eligibility for tax credit bonus of $500 per employee under the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program if not already eligible;
· a lower than average interest rate on any small business loan offered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority; and
· a requirement that the Department of State provide the business with a single contact person who is to be responsible for assisting the business, on an individual basis, and act as the point of contact between that business and all appropriate government entities throughout the permit and approval application process.
The bill implements a recommendation of the July 2015 report by the New Jersey Military Installment Growth and Development Task Force.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Originally posted by the NJ Assembly Democrats.