The Statehouse in Trenton
By Joshua Burd
The state Economic Development Authority has begun accepting applications for a new grant program seeking to help municipalities and counties draw investors to federally designated Opportunity Zones.
Known as the Opportunity Zone Challenge Program, the grant offering is open to all 75 New Jersey municipalities and 21 counties that contain either the whole or part of an Opportunity Zone census tract. The program will award five grants of up to $100,000 each for government entity seeking to fund financial and technical planning around the Opportunity Zone program, which offers favorable tax treatment to investments in those areas.
Applications are now live at https://www.njeda.com/financing_incentives/large_business/Opportunity-Zone-Challenge-Program. Proposals are due Sept. 16 at 4:30 p.m.
The authority said it will also consider partnerships of two to five municipalities whose applications demonstrate a clear strategic plan to build investment capacity in their Opportunity Zones.
Created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Opportunity Zone program is a federal incentive for investors to reinvest unrealized capital gains into dedicated Opportunity Funds. Capital in the funds must be invested in Opportunity Zone businesses or real estate projects for between seven and 10 years in order to unlock the full tax benefit.
EDA officials noted that the program is meant to draw capital to distressed or underserved communities, but many local governments are challenged when it comes to executing on those projects. The Opportunity Zone Challenge Program is designed to address that problem by encouraging communities to develop specific plans to guide their pursuit of Opportunity Zone-based investments.