MPPPS - Special Improvement District - Downtown Revitalization - Business Improvement District - Main Street Growth

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Stuart Z. Koperweis, President
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Jersey City's EDC Does A Super Job

From: New Jersey Business, January 1999

By James T. Prior

Stuart Z. Koperweis, the energetic and effective president of the non-profit Jersey City Economic Development Corporation (JCEDC), just produced a compelling 11-minute video of the virtues of his city. A coup was getting Mort Zuckerman, publisher of The Daily News, to talk about how satisfied he is with opening a modern newspaper plant, with 1,800 employees, in the city's Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) in 1996.

"It was essential that we build the new printing press," Zuckerman said. "Without it, we would not have been able to continue operations. We decided to locate in Jersey City, literally as a life-and-death decision for the newspaper."

The publisher says he considered many options, but found Jersey City offered the right combination of location advantages. "One of the key factors was that we needed a large land mass - at least 20 acres," he says. "We needed to have access to the distrib ution system - which is essentially a highway system - and the Holland Tunnel gave us that. We needed a very pro-business political environment because we weren't going to locate in a place where we were going to have difficulties with he community, or th e leadership of the community. We needed low taxes and low energy costs. These were essential to our being able to locate in both Jersey City and, indeed, in the State of New Jersey."

Two years later, Zuckerman is pleased with his decision.

"I would say if we are happy here, it would be a flagship for many other companies in the area to consider locating in Jersey City."

The Daily News Found A Home In Jersey City!

That's quite a selling tool.

The JCEDC was formed in 1980 as a not-for-profit corporation to assist companies for Jersey City sites. All services are provided without charge and are confidential. It also administers the UEZ program, which covers 80 percent of the city's commercial areas. More than 800 businesses are operating there. The UEZ as generated more than 15,000 new full-time jobs and more than $1.3 billion in investment.

From his corner office on the 8th floor of rehabilitated 30 Montgomery Street, in the waterfront district, Koperweis can look down on all the development on the Gold Coast.

In 1994, the JCEDC was a $1.3-million corporation with 18 employees , today, it is an $11.1-million corporation with 21 employees. Historically, the JCEDC has booked 162 loans and retained 1,140 jobs. Currently it has 43 active loans involving 27 jobs and is committed to four more, with 310 jobs. It works closely with federal officials, the New Jersey State EDC and Public Service Electric & Gas Company's business programs and its Millennium Fund.

A major portion of its work involves blockfronts. In this area, it has been responsible for 64 buildings at even locations. Some 70-plus more buildings at six locations are planned to get started this year Journal Square, among others, will be getting a new facelift over 1999 and 2000. (Please see related story.)

"As for business retention and attraction," he says, "the waterfront involved some 8 million square feet of ffice space with 20,000 jobs. The potential buildout could amount to another 8 million, for a total of 16 milion square feet, with 25,000 more jobs.

"We kept saying, 'If you build it, they will come.' And, Hartz, LeFrak, Mack-Cali and others have built, and tenants have come," muses Koperweis.

The UEZ effort has been prodigious. From 1993 through 1997, the zone certified businesses accounted for 8,757 newly created or retained jobs.

"Jersey City represents 39 percent of all statewide UEZ jobs during the 1993-97 period. In fact, Jersey City EZ businesses generated over $3.2 billion in capital investments during this period."

Koperweis sure knows how to toot the city's horn!