February 11, 2019

New Jersey Incentive Update – February 2019

On Tuesday, February 12, 2019, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) will hold its monthly board meeting in Trenton. Among the actions to be taken, the Board will consider three applications under the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program (Grow NJ). If approved, the three applicants could receive over $45,866,400 in tax credits (over 10 years).

Created under the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program (Grow NJ) is the State’s main job creation and retention incentive program. Under the Grow NJ program, businesses creating or retaining jobs in the State may be eligible for tax credits ranging from $500 to $5,000 per job, per year; with bonus credits ranging from $250 to $3,000 per job, per year (awards vary based on applicable criteria).

While the Grow NJ program has been wildly popular and incredibly successful, it has been the topic of significant debate, and will likely be modified upon its expiration in July of 2019. Governor Phil Murphy recently outlined his vision for new incentive programs, which would include the creation of the NJ Forward Tax Credit Program (which would take the place of Grow NJ as the State’s main job attraction incentive program) and the NJ Aspire Tax Credit Program (which would take the place of ERG as the State’s main incentive for developers). Below is a more detailed overview of the Governor’s plan.

The NJ Forward Tax Credit Program (NJ Forward) will likely take the place of Grow NJ as the State’s main job attraction incentive program. As proposed, NJ Forward will focus primarily on high-wage, high-growth sectors, including life sciences, information and high tech, clean energy, advanced manufacturing, advanced transportation and logistics, finance and insurance, and food and beverage. While the report does not outline specific programmatic details, it states that the proposed program will:

  • Increase focus on global/U.S. headquarters, R&D activities, and foreign direct investments
  • Prioritize new job creation rather than retained jobs
  • Encourage job creation in urban centers and other distressed communities, particularly those with public transit assets
  • Include an annual award cap and review to ensure fiscal sustainability and transparency
  • Feature lower base per-job credit amounts more in line with neighboring states, as well as more focused bonuses that ensure the administration’s policy goals
  • Limit transfers of credits to ensure that job-creating companies reap the primary benefits of taxpayer investment
  • Reward companies that invest in employee skill development and training

The NJ Aspire Tax Credit Program (NJ Aspire) will likely take the place of ERG as the State’s main incentive for developers. The administration is proposing the creation of a new place-based gap financing tool to help catalyze investments in commercial residential, and mixed-use (including parking) projects, with a particular focus on cities, downtowns, and suburban neighborhoods served by mass transit. As proposed, the program will facilitate the conversion of surface parking lots, vacant and/or abandoned lots, and other underutilized properties into job and tax-generating development opportunities. The program will also assist in the development of market-rate housing in distressed communities and, where appropriate, mixed-income and affordable housing near transit in suburban communities. NJ Aspire will be structured as a competitive tax credit grant, giving the NJEDA discretion in awarding grants to the most impactful and development-ready project.

In addition to NJ Forward and NJ Aspire, the Governor has also called for the creation of a new remediation and development tax credit program and a dedicated NJEDA loan fund to support brownfield redevelopment, the creation of a state historic preservation tax credit program, and multiple programs aimed at encouraging venture capital investment in high-growth, high-wage sectors.

If interested in learning more about Grow NJ or other economic development incentive programs, please do not hesitate to contact Chris Murphy at (973) 877-6984 or cmurphy@murphyllp.com.

Murphy Schiller & Wilkes LLP is a boutique law firm specializing in commercial real estate and development matters. Headquartered in Newark, NJ, the firm was founded to provide effective, efficient, and creative legal services to meet the distinctive needs of our clients. Through the development of comprehensive legal strategies, our team works tirelessly to create a blueprint for success and advance our clients’ interests in every matter.