What’s in a Name?

No Matter What They’re Called, N.J. Business Incentive Programs Fuel Construction
By Chris Colabella

When Gov. Chris Christie signs the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, the state’s five current economic business incentive programs will be condensed into two – phasing out the popular BRRAG (Business Retention and Relocation Assistance Grant), BEIP (Business Employment Incentive Program), and Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Program.

At press time, the initiative (Assembly No. 3680) is awaiting the governor’s signature (he has long said he will sign it), after being introduced in May by Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex), chairman of the state’s Economic and Commerce Development Committee, and passed by both the Assembly and Legislature by the end of June. The Act designates Grow New Jersey Assistance Program as the state’s business retention and attraction program, while ERG (Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant) would be New Jersey’s redevelopment incentive program.

Efforts to streamline business development in the state are led by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and aim, first and foremost, to retain and create jobs here. Under the Act, the newly defined programs encourage redevelopment of urban centers, suburban office parks and areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Regardless of what they are called, business incentive programs (read: grants and tax credits), which compel companies to expand or relocate here, translate to more work for New Jersey’s construction industry. These projects call for new buildings and site expansions, as well as new roads and other infrastructure projects.

In Assemblyman Coutinho’s own backyard of Essex County, the $444 million Prudential Office Towers project, located at Broad and Halsey streets in Newark, is being financed with the help of a $211 million tax credit from the Urban Transit Hub program. Prudential Financial said SJP Properties of Hoboken will begin construction on its new 20-story office tower and 55-foot-tall parking garage by the end of this summer.

Business incentive programs have been a lynchpin in the state’s economic development plan – a go-to tool in the toolbox, if you will, when a business announces its plan to leave the state.

When it works, it’s a win-win for the company and the state. In fact, Gov. Christie was on hand to help cut the ribbon at the official opening of Realogy Holdings Corp.’s new Madison Township headquarters on June 20.

Back in early 2012, the company had announced its decision to pack up and move from Parsippany to North Carolina. However, Gov. Christie and his economic development team stepped in to offer Realogy a $10.7 million BRRAG award, plus a $1.4 million sales tax exemption. The move convinced Realogy to stay in New Jersey and build its new global headquarters in Madison. A year later, the residential real estate franchise giant broke ground on its new 270,000-square-foot complex. Newark-based Tishman Construction Corporation of NJ headed up construction of the three-story office complex with parking garage.

Incidentally, BRRAG – which allows the state to give an annual corporate income tax credit of $3,000 per employee to businesses considering expansion or threatening to leave the state — has helped to create more than 100,000 jobs since it was first enacted 17 years ago. Realogy’s decision to stay in New Jersey kept 935 jobs from moving out of state. (And, those figures don’t even count the number of construction employees put to work thanks to the many projects which have resulted from incentives over the years.)

For now, existing tax and other business incentives associated with BRRAG, BEIP, etc. remain available to qualified companies. (Visit http://www.njeda.com for more information.) However, even when these programs are merged under different titles – namely Grow New Jersey and ERGG — construction companies should reap the benefits of state programs that provide businesses with capital – either in the form of grants or tax credits.

Regardless of what New Jersey calls the programs, once companies build, they will stay
— at least that’s what the State of New Jersey is counting on.

Chris Colabella is the president of CIS, Inc., New Jersey’s only local construction lead service. For more information, visit http://www.cisleads.com or call 800- to arrange for a free demo of CIS Leads.

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