The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) has released information on the state’s Food Desert Relief Tax Credit Program and announced dates for public listening sessions. Established by the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020 (ERA), the Food Desert Relief Act (FDRA) addresses the food security needs of communities across New Jersey by providing up to $40 million per year in tax credits, loans, grants, and/or technical assistance to increase access to nutritious foods and develop new approaches to alleviate food deserts. The NJEDA is seeking public feedback on the first program under the FDRA, the Food Desert Relief Tax Credit Program.
The Food Desert Relief Tax Credit program encourages sustainability of supermarkets for a lasting impact on communities. To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate that with the tax credit award the supermarket will remain open for business for at least seven years. Awards of up to 40% of project costs are available for development of the first new or substantially rehabilitated supermarket in a designated Food Desert Community (FDC), while the second supermarket in an FDC can be eligible for an award of up to 20% of project costs. Awards will also be available to fill a shortfall in initial operating income, including a reasonable operating profit.
The NJEDA, in collaboration with the Departments of Community Affairs and Agriculture, previously designated 50 FDCs across the state, approved by the NJEDA board in February 2022. These FDCs will be targeted by a variety of programs to increase access to affordable, nutritious food through funding for supermarkets, small- and mid-size retailers, and other entities that support food security initiatives. The program that will be the focus of the upcoming public listening sessions is the Food Desert Relief Tax Credit Program, which aims to support the development and initial operations of new supermarkets and grocery stores in these communities.
Members of the public are encouraged to review the preliminary information and submit written feedback through an online form available on the Economic Recovery Act website. The NJEDA will also be hosting two listening sessions for public input on the proposed information for the Food Desert Relief Tax Credit Program. There will be an in-depth presentation by NJEDA representatives, with time allowed for questions, comments, and feedback. Members of the public will have the opportunity to offer comment on the information presented.
The virtual sessions will be held:
Those unable to attend these sessions and those that wish to submit written feedback will be able to submit public comment until January 9th. To provide feedback on the Food Desert Relief Tax Credit Program online click here.
In addition to the Food Desert Relief Tax Credit program, the ERA creates a suite of programs that includes tax credits to incentivize job creation, new construction, and historic property reinvestment; and financial resources for small businesses. The NJEDA will continue to engage the public as new programs and rules are developed.
For more information and to provide written input on the design and implementation of Economic Recovery Act programs, visit https://www.njeda.com/economicrecoveryact/.
The Food Desert Tax Credit Program is part of a broader portfolio of work focused on food security, including the Food Security Planning Grant and Sustain and Serve NJ. For more information on the Food Desert Relief Act and Food Desert Community designations, visit https://www.njeda.com/food-desert-relief-program/.
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