The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) is offering five grants of up to $100,000 each—for a total of $500,000—to select municipal or county governments or municipal partnerships of from two to five New Jersey municipalities annually whose applications demonstrate a clear strategic plan to build investment capacity in their Opportunity Zones.
This Opportunity Zone Challenge Program is an ongoing competitive grant program aimed at supporting community revitalization efforts to attract investments in Opportunity Zones. Grants will be awarded annually through the program to fund municipal and county-level financial and technical planning around Opportunity Zone economic development.
The Opportunity Zone program is a federal incentive for investors to re-invest unrealized capital gains into dedicated Opportunity Funds. Capital in these Funds must be invested in Opportunity Zone businesses or real estate projects for a fixed period of time in order for investors to access the full tax benefit. New Jersey contains 169 Opportunity Zones, which span 75 municipalities across all 21 counties.
While the Opportunity Zone program was designed to focus capital flows and economic investment into communities that have historically faced economic challenges, long-term investment scarcity and strained local governments have made it difficult for many of the communities most in need to develop and capitalize critical projects. The Opportunity Zone Challenge Program is designed to address this problem by encouraging communities to develop specific plans to guide their pursuit of Opportunity Zone-based investments.
The Challenge is open to all 75 New Jersey municipalities and 21 counties that contain either the whole or part of an Opportunity Zone census tract. As part of the grant application, applicants must prepare a proposal that includes steps they will take to attract Opportunity Zone investments.
Some examples include: preparing a financial or marketing prospectus to showcase an Opportunity Zone’s benefits to investors; engaging in feasibility planning for Opportunity Zone-focused development; or considering zoning, code, and regulatory reforms to streamline the approvals process in Opportunity Zones. Proposals must include specific deliverables that can be fully completed within six calendar months of the date the NJEDA and the recipient execute a grant agreement. As part of the application, applicants must also designate at least one strategic partner whose external expertise they will use to best achieve the Challenge’s goals.
Featured photo of Trenton, New Jersey via Adobe Stock.