Opportunity Zone Boot Camp Showcases New Jersey Programs
New Jersey Economic Development Authority's Tim Sullivan (top), Elizabeth Limbrick and John Costell presented at the Opportunity Zone Boot Camp & Pitch Competition.
Newark, N.J. (October 18, 2019) – Dozens of community leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors convened yesterday at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) campus in Newark for the 2nd National Opportunity Zone Boot Camp and Pitch Competition hosted by BrownfieldListings.com. In addition to educational sessions that showcased New Jersey’s resources for Opportunity Zone communities and investors, the event also included a pitch competition, where participants pitched their ideas to redevelopment experts for a chance to win funding.
“Supporting locally appropriate investment in communities is a critical component of Governor Murphy’s plan to build a stronger, fairer New Jersey economy,” said New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) CEO Tim Sullivan. “This event was an exciting opportunity to showcase New Jersey’s unmatched suite of resources that bring together investors, developers, and community leaders in Opportunity Zones to connect community-driven projects with the capital that can turn those ideas into reality.”
Organized by national redevelopment ecosystem BrownfieldListings.com (BL) in partnership with the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), the Opportunity Zone Boot Camp and Pitch Competition featured presentations from leading experts in all disciplines related to Opportunity Zone development, from finance and law to brownfield remediation and community engagement. The event concluded with an open pitch competition that gave community leaders, entrepreneurs, and developers a platform to pitch their projects to a panel of redevelopment experts.
“As a resident of a municipality that is committed to using the Opportunity Zone program to drive positive, community-supported development, this event was an eye-opening opportunity to learn about the resources available in New Jersey and to build connections with the investors and developers who will help build Flemington’s future,” said Robin Lapidus, Executive Director, Flemington Community Partnership.
New Jersey’s Opportunity Zone strategy is focused on attracting investments in inclusive, equitable development that promote business growth and job creation, especially in communities that have been passed over by developers in the past. The centerpiece of this strategy is the recently-launched Opportunity Zone Marketplace, an online portal designed to connect investors nationwide with business investment, real estate, and community improvement projects in Opportunity Zones.
The Opportunity Zone Marketplace includes a Project Marketplace featuring business and real estate project opportunities, and a Network that facilitates connections among investors, developers, local leaders, project sponsors, business and property owners, and service providers. Individuals and organizations can join the Statewide Network, as well as Local Networks specific to individual municipalities.
“As an investor in real estate and small businesses, the New Jersey Opportunity Zone Marketplace is one of the most exciting and forward-thinking tools I have seen for making the most of this program,” said Michael Ojo, Acquisition Manager at Golden Door Asset Management and one of the judges for the pitch competition.
“Having one central location where I can identify opportunities to invest in real estate as well as minority and women-owned businesses that have community support and connect with partners paves the way for unique and impactful investments that will quickly improve quality of life in underserved communities that have suffered from disinvestment for years.”
Other New Jersey resources were also on display, such as the state’s Opportunity Zone “One-Stop Shop” website, which includes a Community Asset map with data on all the 75 Opportunity Zones and guides for preparing a project pipeline and connecting shovel-ready projects with Opportunity Zone fund investors, and the NJEDA’s Opportunity Zone Challenge, a competitive grant program aimed at supporting efforts to attract investment and build capacity around economic development.
Today’s event also introduced brownfield redevelopment leaders to the NJEDA’s recently-appointed Senior Brownfields Advisor Elizabeth Limbrick. Limbrick brings more than two decades of brownfields redevelopment experience to the NJEDA, including posts at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, academic research on brownfields-related matters and one-on-one technical mentoring for communities at NJIT, and private-sector brownfield management experience.
Limbrick presented on her holistic approach to building out the NJEDA’s current brownfields program, which will leverage brownfields to drive economic growth and create thriving and inclusive urban centers and downtowns, with a focus on addressing environmental justice issues and reducing poverty. She highlighted the NJEDA’s enhanced loan program and proposed brownfields redevelopment tax credit that will provide gap funding for brownfield remediation. Limbrick also discussed the NJEDA’s collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to expand the Community Collaborative Initiative (CCI), which embeds DEP staff in targeted cities to provide hands-on support as they coordinate successful remediation and redevelopment projects.
“Today’s educational sessions and pitch competition provided an inspiring overview of the many creative ways leaders across the country are taking advantage of the Opportunity Zone program to drive positive change in their communities,” said Dan French, Founder and CEO of Brownfield Listings. “Bringing together the wide variety of investors, entrepreneurs, developers, and government officials who connect virtually on Brownfield Listings to share their expertise and ideas was incredible, and I am sure the connections forged today will lead to major revitalization initiatives down the line.”
To read Governor Murphy's full economic plan, please visit: https://nj.gov/economicplan
About the New Jersey Economic Development Authority
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) serves as the State’s principal agency for driving economic growth. The NJEDA is committed to making New Jersey a national model for inclusive and sustainable economic development by focusing on key strategies to help build strong and dynamic communities, create good jobs for New Jersey residents, and provide pathways to a stronger and fairer economy. Through partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders, the NJEDA creates and implements initiatives to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the State and strengthen New Jersey’s long-term economic competitiveness.
To learn more about NJEDA resources for businesses call NJEDA Customer Care at 609-858-6767 or visit https://www.njeda.com and follow @NewJerseyEDA on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.