economic recovery
Economic Development

Fair Lawn Selected for Inaugural Federal Economic Transformation Program

Fair Lawn Main Street Inc., a public-private partnership charged with facilitating and coordinating the strengthening of the Borough of Fair Lawn’s economic and commercial vitality, has been selected as a host organization in the first cohort of the International Economic Development Council’s Economic Recovery Corps (ERC).

“It is a remarkable achievement for the Borough of Fair Lawn to represent the economic vitality of New Jersey on a national level,” said Wesley Mathews, president and CEO of Choose New Jersey. “Fair Lawn’s continued achievements as part of the inaugural cohort of the Federal Economic Transformation Project will serve as a great example of how strategic partnerships can promote transformative economic change.”

Authorized under the CARES Act and created through a $30 million cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the ERC Fellowship was launched to address long-standing economic issues in America that surfaced during the COVID-19 pandemic by connecting organizations with the talent and capacity needed to advance new ways of doing economic development that promote economic resilience and transformative change.

“This inaugural cohort of the Economic Recovery Corps has the potential to infuse new energy and new opportunities in regional economic development nationwide,” commented U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo.

From over 500 host applications, 65 host organizations were selected. Host sites are located across 44 states and territories and represent a cross-section of rural, urban, and tribal communities.

The ERC Program matched 65 host sites nationwide with a dedicated Fellow, fully funded for 2.5 years, to work towards advancing a project critical to the economic recovery of the local host community.

“ERC is more than a fellowship; it is a testament to the power of collaboration and strategic partnerships deeply needed to produce lasting social and economic impact. By joining forces with national partners, host organizations, funders, and practitioners eager for new models and practices, ERC will build capacity in places of need while supporting the next generation of economic development leaders, all while driving more equitable economic outcomes,” said Nathan Ohle, president & CEO of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

Fair Lawn, which is one of the largest municipalities within Bergen County, is the only New Jersey location to be selected as a host site.

“This is an exciting program that marries talented planners and place-makers to communities ready to raise their profile,” explained IEDC Board Member and New Jersey Resident Jessica Paolini. “What emerges in Fair Lawn will be a great example of economic development for other communities in New Jersey and beyond.”

“My administration and I would like to congratulate the Borough of Fair Lawn on this tremendous accomplishment. The fact that Fair Lawn is the sole New Jersey municipality to be chosen for this program underscores Bergen County’s unwavering role as the Economic Engine of New Jersey. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Borough of Fair Lawn as they revitalize their Broadway Special Improvement District and strengthen their economic and commercial vitality through this exciting resource,” said Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco.

Created in 2023 by bringing together the Fair Lawn Economic Development Corporation, River Road Improvement Corporation, and Broadway Improvement Corporation, Fair Lawn Main Street Inc. is responsible for executing programs to enhance the local business climate and manage the special improvement districts within the Borough of Fair Lawn. Among these special improvement districts is the Broadway commercial corridor along NJ Route 4.

“We knew the best way to support our business community and facilitate the revitalization of the Broadway Special Improvement District would be through collaborations with partners like the Bergen County Division of Economic Development, the New Jersey Transit Corporation, and the New Jersey Business Action Center,” explained Fair Lawn Councilmember Gail Rottenstrich.

Throughout 2023, specialists from the New Jersey Department of State’s Business Action Center toured Fair Lawn, met with local business and community leaders, and developed placemaking and revitalization plans for the Broadway Special Improvement District. These plans were ultimately used as the bedrock of Fair Lawn Main Street Inc.’s successful application to have an ERC Fellow assigned to work on revitalizing the Broadway Special Improvement District.

“By supporting place-based revitalization and business prosperity for local governments and district management entities, the NJBAC helps communities achieve local business enhancement goals,” said Melanie Willoughby, Executive Director of the New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC). “Our assistance and guidance services, which are always free for New Jersey districts and businesses, contribute to sustaining effective and resilient local economies. We use a variety of resources and planning tools to problem-solve and implement best practices to support districts and their needs.”

The Fellow at each selected host site will act as a field catalyst to build, strengthen, and coordinate relationships and local efforts alongside their host community. Fair Lawn’s ERC Fellow’s revitalization project of the Broadway Special Improvement District entails district planning and design, beautification, customer attraction strategies, stakeholder engagement, and program delivery.

Officially starting in February 2024, all 65 Fellows will begin their two-and-a-half-year field placements with host organizations across the nation and start working on their assigned economic development projects.

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