Urban Enterprise Zone Is Back in Lakewood

This month, Acting Governor Sheila Oliver signed into law the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) Reform Bill.

The legislation restores and revises the UEZ Program and appropriates $42.5 million in Zone Assistance Funds (ZAF) for FY22, bringing the program back to full operation after having been without a funding source for more than ten years.

“The Urban Enterprise Zone is a crucial program that helps boost and support Lakewood’s business community,” says Lakewood UEZ Executive Director David Klein. “The UEZ’s main mission is to create a climate that promotes increased jobs opportunities and provides business benefits and support to Lakewood’s residents and businesses. We work dedicatedly every day to accomplish this mission. Lakewood has done an excellent job maintaining the program since state funds stopped coming to Lakewood ten years ago in 2011. With the signing of this new UEZ legislation, we look forward to a new burst of energy to make Lakewood UEZ’s program strong and robust again and continue to be the UEZ’s gold standard.”

Created in 1983, the UEZ Program Authority, an affiliate agency of the Department of Community Affairs, was created to foster an economic climate that revitalizes designated urban communities and stimulates their growth by encouraging businesses to develop and create private-sector jobs through public and private investment.

In a previous iteration of the program, UEZ provided a dedicated funding source for local economic development in the form of a reduced state sales tax. Those state sales tax funds were then deployed in UEZ communities to promote economic development. A dedicated funding source, which ended in 2011, is being restored under the law signed today. Currently, there are 32 zones, which are spread across 37 municipalities and home to approximately 7,267 UEZ-certified businesses.

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