UEZ Investments Over the Last Year Making Significant Improvements
TRENTON – The Urban Enterprise Zone Authority (UEZA) is highlighting improvements to the Wildwoods as a result of more than $472,000 in UEZ funding awarded over the last year to a number of community improvement projects. The projects are aimed at making the region, which includes the City of Wildwood, North Wildwood, West Wildwood, and Wildwood Crest, more inviting to tourists.
The UEZA, which is affiliated with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), offers business and tax incentives aimed at fostering an economic climate that revitalizes designated urban communities and stimulates growth by encouraging businesses to develop and create private sector jobs through public and private investment.
The improvements, which include streetlight and public address system upgrades; master plan reexamination; traffic studies; streetscape upgrades; and trashcan and bench acquisitions, were funded by the UEZA over the last year.
“Jersey shore communities like the Wildwoods rely on summer tourism dollars to carry them through the year, so attracting visitors is vital. The Urban Enterprise Zone Authority is pleased to help the Wildwoods cover the costs of projects that make visitors feel welcome and safe in their communities,” said Acting DCA Commissioner Kimberly Holmes. “We also appreciate how quickly the City of Wildwood, North Wildwood, West Wildwood, and Wildwood Crest jumped into action to make the projects happen. Without a doubt, these improvements will benefit the communities for a long time to come.”
“These are huge, vital projects for tourism-driven towns like the Wildwoods – projects that wouldn’t be happening without the help of funding from the UEZ program. Everyone who comes to the Wildwoods goes to the boardwalk, everyone is walking up those ramps, and how they interact with the boardwalk is a key factor in how they perceive the city,” said Steve Booy, the UEZ Coordinator for the City of Wildwood, North Wildwood, West Wildwood, and Wildwood Crest. “Competition for tourist dollars is always high. These improvements will help keep Wildwood an active, inviting destination for tourists and residents alike, and will help to secure Wildwood’s economic future.”
The $68,000 public address system upgrade, which is made up of two approximately $34,000 awards to North Wildwood and Wildwood, was approved by the UEZA Board in spring 2023. The system is up and running this summer season and is used to play music throughout the day and the national anthem at events and to broadcast emergency information.
The master plan reexamination report, which received $70,000 in UEZ funding, is nearing completion, pending a finalization from the planning team. The enhancements to come from the reexamination report include pedestrian tunnels at the ends of streets, accessibility enhancements for visitors with disabilities, as well as other improvements.
The $334,875 Pacific Avenue Business District Street Lighting Project brought new poles and banner arms to the business corridor.
“These streetlights replaced what was a mishmash of different streetlight designs and styles,” said Booy. “So, this was a placemaking project that helped to unify the business district aesthetically, giving tourists and patrons a greater sense of experience when visiting the district.”
Several other streetscape improvement projects are under development or out for bid and will be unveiled in the near future.
The Urban Enterprise Zone program was originally established in 1983. In August 2021, Acting Governor Sheila Oliver signed legislation that appropriated $42.5 million to the program, allowing for an expansion of UEZA services to the designated UEZ zones.
A main feature of the reinvigorated UEZ program includes Zone Assistance Funds, which is flexible revenue for communities to use for economic development. In the two years since the program’s reboot, UEZA has awarded more than $30 million in Zone Assistance Funds to 110 municipal-level projects. Additionally, participating businesses within the zones receive a reduced sales tax rate (currently 3.3125%), as well as tax-free purchases on capital equipment, facility expansions and the like.
There are currently 32 active zones in 37 municipalities throughout the state, with over 600 businesses participating in the program.
For more information about the UEZA, visit https://www.nj.gov/dca/uez/.
DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including local government management and finance, affordable housing production, rental assistance, fire safety, building safety, disaster recovery and mitigation, historic preservation, community planning and development, and information privacy.
For more information about DCA, visit https://nj.gov/dca/.