Strategy for UC economic development is approved

UNION COUNTY, NJ — The U.S. Economic Development Authority has approved an economic development strategy that will support economic development and job creation in 19 municipalities throughout seven counties in northern central New Jersey, including Elizabeth, Plainfield, and Roselle in Union County. The Watson Institute for Public Policy at Thomas Edison State University coordinated the plan, which is a unique collaborative strategy that includes several projects in a collection of municipalities. The EDA has approved the plans for these projects, which include future grants to fund them.

“The approval of this document recognizes the importance of integrating standard economic development work with the long-term efforts of overcoming structural barriers to economic success,” said Barbara George Johnson, executive director of the Watson Institute, according to a press release statement. “What makes our plan unique is that it includes several projects that involve the public and private sectors which are designed to benefit a seven-county region in North Central New Jersey.”

According to the strategy, in Elizabeth, the EDA is seeking $562,000 in grants to gut-rehab an 80-foot by 45-foot mixed-use property to include four low-income rental units, and restore a dormant ground level commercial space. It will be utilized as a one-stop apprentice and job training program for eligible applicants to receive career-specific training and skills. They will be working directly with the Union Trades and growth sector employers.

Elizabeth Development Co. and the city of Elizabeth are also requesting $412,000 with the support of the city to construct and operate a hydroponic and urban farming greenhouse. It will provide jobs to local residents as well as fresh, organically grown produce. It will save space and water, in addition to preventing pest infestation.

A new facility to accommodate Streetlight Mission to meet the needs of people in poverty will require $1.8 million in federal grant funds. Its goal is to restore the lives of people in poverty. Finally, a $2 million grant fund will expand the size of the Trinitas Emergency Department and upgrade its equipment. There is currently a shortage of practitioners in the field of medicine, and this project will help alleviate the deficiency by providing training in this field.

“Urban hospitals are a critical part of their communities, both as providers of essential health care services but also as major employers and economic engines,” said Betsy Ryan, president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association, according to a press release statement. “NJHA welcomes the opportunity to be part of this statewide dialogue, for the health of our hospitals, but more importantly for the well-being of the communities they serve.”