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New Jersey’s Urban Enterprise Zones would get a two-year extension under legislation released by the Senate Economic Growth Committee on Monday. The New Jersey Business & Industry Association supports the bill.

The new legislation accepts the Governor’s recommendation that the Commissioner of Community Affairs research potential alternatives to the UEZ program and provide a report within six months. The bill also provides a two-year extension of the program to the five UEZs set to expire at the end of 2016.

“The UEZ program has proven to be helpful to small businesses and downtown areas in cities that need economic development the most,” said Andrew Musick, NJBIA director of Taxation & Economic Development. “More effective alternatives may be found in the future, but until then, the UEZ program should continue.

“This is a program that was designed for Main Street and tailored to help small businesses,” Musick said. “Many of these communities are still struggling, so we think the program should remain in place, at least until the study is completed.”

Currently, five UEZ communities are set to expire at the end of 2016: Bridgeton, Camden, Plainfield, Trenton, and Newark. Businesses in UEZs are allowed to charge half of the state’s regular sales tax rate and  receive incentives such as business-to-business tax exemptions, subsidies for unemployment insurance, and corporate-tax credits for hiring and investing.