The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced yesterday the first awards under the Government Restricted Municipality (GRM) Planning Grants Program. The cities of Atlantic City, Paterson and Trenton, which are the only entities identified as GRM municipalities in the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020 (ERA), will each receive a grant of $250,000 under Phase One of this two-phase Program.
The funds awarded to each city will support the creation of detailed, long-term, and action-oriented strategic plans that synthesize existing plans from both the municipality and stakeholders and identify technical capacity gaps that have held projects back from completion. These projects are considered to have significant potential to provide sustainable and resilient benefits for community members and business stakeholders.
“Governor Murphy’s ERA is laser-focused on bringing sustainable economic growth to urban centers that can benefit from the creation of new family-sustaining jobs, quality housing and new commercial space,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “These planning grants will accelerate Paterson’s, Atlantic City’s and Trenton’s ability to maximize the impact of our new suite of tools to invest in their communities.”
In line with Governor Phil Murphy’s commitment to investing in communities and people, the GRM Planning Grants Program, announced in June 2021, leverages $3 million of ERA funding to provide grants to qualified applicants to create long-term strategic action plans to catalyze stalled projects and meet the community’s goals.
Following the creation of these strategic action plans under Phase One, Phase Two of the program will provide additional funding of up to $750,000 per GRM to support the execution of projects identified in their strategic action plans.
Eligibility for Phase 2 will be limited to GRMs with plans developed under Phase 1: The approved projects looked at innovative ways to create new collaborations and analyze plans and planning studies from a variety of stakeholders.
Trenton will work with two core partners: Greater Trenton and New Jersey Future, who will conduct an in-depth assessment of economic opportunities based on city assets and market condition. The plan will report and examine the goals and measures for success of the City’s progress to implementing its master plan in order to determine Trenton’s ability to act strategically and take on a long-term planning approach; analyze strengths to be built from; and identify existing gaps that could slow implementation, including internal systems, procedures, and capacity.
“The grants approved today will enable the City, in partnership with Greater Trenton and NJ Future, to take stock of our assets and create a thoughtful, strategic path forward toward implementing Trenton’s Master Plan,” said Mayor Reed Gusciora. “We are so grateful for the state’s support, and are excited to launch this vital planning initiative that will create a solid foundation of economic growth for Trenton’s small businesses and residents now and into the future.”
Through its Department of Planning, Atlantic City will leverage a rapid but thorough nationwide contract bid for a major planning and analysis partner. The dual focus of the plan will look at gaps that exist for current project development partners as well as identifying solutions that will increase the flow of outside capital.
“The economic revitalization of Atlantic City remains a top priority for my Administration,” said Mayor Marty Small, Sr. “The GRM Planning Grants Program will provide the critical funding needed to support innovative projects that aid in the long-term growth of the great City we call home.”
Paterson, utilizing a City-led integrated special project team, will focus their planning efforts on projects that are community-based but lack planning and research to move to market. The City will also look at the needs around redevelopment areas, city-wide redevelopment plans and their impact on municipal and stakeholder projects.
“As America’s first planned industrial city, we are thoroughly excited about this announcement from the NJEDA. These vital funds will ensure that Paterson engages key stakeholders in crafting new blueprints for comprehensive revitalization and redevelopment citywide,” said Mayor Andre Sayegh. “City planning is the management of change. It should inspire both hope and pragmatism for the future of our great City.”
More information about the GRM Planning Grants Program is available at https://www.njeda.com/grmpgp.