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Matching Funds Approved for 4 NJ Regional Challenge Applicant Coalitions

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Board approved the use of up to $400,000 in Economic Recovery Fund (ERF) funding to provide matching funds as part of the Authority’s participation in four applicant coalitions to the United States Economic Development Administration (U.S. EDA) Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC). The Authority will provide up to $100,000 to support each coalition that is selected by the U.S. EDA as a Phase 1 finalist in the BBBRC to assist with the development of the coalition’s Phase 2 application.

“Governor Murphy and President Biden have made tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting a strong, equitable recovery a top priority. The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is a unique opportunity for New Jersey to bolster our industry clusters to better address the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and identify a slate of transformational economic development initiatives,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “The NJEDA is proud to support applicant coalitions in key sectors with potential to drive transformative economic growth and job creation. The funding approved today will help ensure these applicants have the best chance of success if they are selected as finalists.”

The BBBRC is a federal program that will fund projects that create high-quality jobs, increase wages, and revitalize communities in places that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants for the Challenge act as a regional coalition with one lead entity per application.

Applications for Phase 1 are due Oct. 19. During this phase the U.S. EDA will select 50 to 60 winners to receive planning grants of up to $500,000. Winners will use these planning grants to support the preparation of the coalition’s Phase 2 application, which is due March 15, 2022. During Phase 2, the U.S. EDA will choose 20 to 30 winners to receive implementation grants of $25 to $100 million.

The matching funds approved today will be available to support coalitions the NJEDA is participating in that are chosen as Phase 1 finalists as they work to prepare more detailed applications for Phase 2, including strengthening collaborations with industry partners and/or community groups; undertaking feasibility studies, architectural plans, or engineering studies; and continuing the development of component projects to prepare for the Phase 2 application or for other future funding opportunities.

The NJEDA is participating in four applicant coalitions focused on aviation innovation, biomanufacturing, clean energy, and smart ports. Coalitions were selected due to the leadership of, or the participation by, another government entity (including state universities) and for their alignment with New Jersey’s targeted industries identified in Governor Murphy’s economic plan.

The aviation innovation coalition is focused on smart aviation and aerospace in South Jersey, including Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), Advanced Air Cargo, and Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS). The coalition is considering infrastructure construction projects, including a vertiport and droneport; airspace planning; workforce training programs; microgrants for underrepresented youth to develop aviation innovations and businesses; and curricula for regional high schools and colleges focused on UAS and AAM. This coalition is led by Atlantic County and the Atlantic County Economic Alliance (ACEA).

The biomanufacturing coalition is focused on advanced manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and developing new, more efficient ways to produce medicines to reduce reliance on foreign drug manufacturing and shorten supply chains to help patients. The coalition is also working on training an expanded workforce on new and unique manufacturing processes, enabling digital design of products and processes, accelerating pharmaceutical product and manufacturing process development, and developing real time quality assurance processes. This coalition is led by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and will leverage existing physical, educational, and talent assets in the Northeast corridor, including the NJ BioScience Center, the NJ Innovation & Technology HUB, BioCentriq at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), major research institutions, community colleges, and major biopharma companies with headquarters in New Jersey.

The clean energy coalition is building on the Murphy Administration’s historic investments in decarbonizing New Jersey’s economy by expanding New Jersey’s clean energy sector, specifically offshore wind, clean transport, energy storage, and smart grid technologies. The coalition is considering infrastructure projects, workforce training, and business acceleration efforts to support the manufacturing supply chain for clean energy. The coalition is led by Rowan University and includes multiple other higher education partners and thought leaders in the clean energy space.

The smart ports regional coalition is focused on optimizing ports in the greater Newark area to expand regional economic impact and spur large-scale job creation. The coalition will focus on innovative transportation systems, including industry projects of advanced technologies for freight movement, clean energy, data analytics and secured IT systems, supply chain improvements, workforce development, facility design, and an on-line property marketplace for off-port related businesses. These projects will be guided by principles of equity and social and environmental justice. This coalition is led by the City of Newark in partnership with NJIT.

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