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Federal Opportunity Zones will attract billions of dollars in capital investment from the private sector, U.S. Senator Cory Booker predicted Monday, boosting the prospects of both businesses and New Jersey’s poorest communities.

Gov. Phil Murphy said his administration jumped on the opportunity the new federal program presented, getting zones designated in 75 communities in New Jersey.  “It’s the only part of the tax bill that we like,” Murphy said, referring to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. “We are head-over-heels in love with this.”

The two were part of a panel discussion at the Investors Symposium hosted by Choose New Jersey at Rutgers-Newark. TV news anchor Steve Adubato led the discussion.

NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka called the program “a great opportunity for public private partnerships and an effective part of a comprehensive economic development strategy.

“While the success of the Opportunity Zone program may ultimately depend on private investment commitment in each community, we feel strongly it can be an effective economic development tool that will help small businesses grow and create private sector jobs in some of the state’s most economically challenged cities,” Siekerka said.

Federal Opportunity Zones allow for investments to be made in certain communities in return for reduced taxes on the capital gains they earn. If the investments are kept going for 10 years or more, investors could

Over 200 investors, economic developers and business and community leaders attended, according to Murphy’s office.

The idea is to get “parked” capital invested back into areas that are emerging economically.

“When it’s all said and done, I think the capital you are going to attract to New Jersey won’t be measured in the millions, or even in the hundreds of millions.  I think your efforts will bring billions of dollars of new investment into our state, grow our tax base, and create more revenue for all,” Booker said.

The program will be run by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. For more details, visit the department’s website here.