A bill that would create a Garden State Growth Zone around Atlantic City International Airport was approved by the state Assembly and Senate budget committees and will be sent to the full Legislature for a vote.
The bill, which was a big topic in the 2017 election cycle in Atlantic County, allows qualified businesses interested in relocating within one mile of the airport in Egg Harbor Township to apply for tax incentives to help reduce costs.
The one-mile radius includes the Stockton Aviation Research and Technology Park, which is under construction.
The bill is sponsored by state Sens. Steve Sweeney, Jeff Van Drew and Chris Brown and Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato.
“Atlantic City Airport can become an aviation hub in South Jersey,” Mazzeo, D-Atlantic, said in a statement. “Its proximity to educational institutions, such as Stockton Aviation Research and Technology Park, creates enormous potential for development of new aviation technology and putting Atlantic and the state on the forefront of the industry. Designating the airport and its surrounding area as a Garden State Growth Zone would be a win-win for the city and its residents.”
In January, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a similar bill on his way out of office.
He defended his decision, saying he didn’t like that it extended the same growth zone benefits for the airport in Egg Harbor Township to Atlantic City, Camden, Passaic, Paterson and Trenton.
This new bill creates the incentives only at Atlantic City International and a one-mile radius around it.
The idea of establishing a Garden State Growth Zone is to attract out-of-state businesses to come into New Jersey. There has been debate among lawmakers about the effectiveness of this designation because companies that already do business in New Jersey were moving to other parts of the state to get the tax breaks.
But adding a growth zone around the airport was a good idea, other lawmakers argue, be-cause there is no “aviation industry” already established in New Jersey.