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Businesses surrounding New Jersey’s five military installations would receive tax credits and small business loans aimed at fueling the innovation economy under legislation that passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee today.

Tyler Seville, NJBIA’s director of Technology and Workforce Development, said providing more business incentives would help attract investments in critical areas such as science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and research and development.

“New Jersey is a top state for aerospace and defense manufacturing so it’s no surprise that many of the jobs in and around our military installations are STEM related,” Seville said. “By supporting our military installations, we are also supporting our innovation economy here in New Jersey.”

The bill would allow a defense-related and -supported business on commercial property within five miles of a military base to be eligible for a tax credit bonus of $500 per employee under the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program, and obtain small business loans at below-average interest rates from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

In addition, the legislation would require the NJ Department of State to provide businesses near military bases with a single contact person responsible for assisting the company throughout the permit and application approval processes involving all government entities.

The legislation implements a recommendation of the 2015 New Jersey Military Installment Growth and Development Task Force, which found there is a need to build up the innovation economy in areas surrounding New Jersey military bases to better insulate them from future federal budget cuts or base realignments and closures. Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB-MDL) in Burlington and Ocean counties, according to the 2015 report, is the state’s second-largest employer supporting more than 44,000 military and civilian employees and contributing more than $7 billion annually to the state’s economy.

In addition to the JD-MDL mega base, which also supports 65,000 off-installation jobs, the four other military installations in New Jersey are: Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County; the U.S. Naval Weapons Station Earle in Monmouth County; the Air National Guard 177th Fighter Wing stationed at the Atlantic City International Airport in Atlantic County; and the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May in Cape May County.

New Jersey ranks sixth in the nation for space and defense manufacturing.