By Michael Hill
Alfry Zapata shows Sen. Robert Menendez how liquid nitrogen powers the forklifts at the Newark Farmers Market, a green plant with solar panels on the roof.
“I’m really impressed. This is a state pf the art energy efficient distribution center which is a model of how we can use the federal tax code to foster community development, economic gowth and job creation,” Menendez said.
The Newark Farmers Market took advantage of millions of dollars from the federal New Market Tax Credit and a public-private partnership for construction two years ago. The market owner says New Jersey needs more like this.
“The project is a perfect example of what this country needs. It is an illustration of state, city and private businesses working together to create jobs and stimulate the economy in an area which is in a dire need of a boost,” said David Forem of Forem Facility Management.
Fruits and vegetables from this plant will go to stores — and on our tables — throughout New Jersey and beyond, including stores in areas of Newark considered food deserts such as the ShopRite that will be built on Springfield Avenue — set to open next year, not far from where Key Food closed last year.
This plant employs 150 workers — like Alfry Zapata — hired as a logistics administrator two years ago.
“Through dedication and hard work I received a promotion to supervisor less than two years later,” Zapata said.
But, the federal New Market Tax Credit to help make the 180-square-foot Newark Farmers Market a reality expired this year and Menendez says Senate Republicans have threatened its extension by trying to attach amendments that have nothing to do with the tax credit.
“It’s a vital program designed to attract private sector investment. Very often in our long neglected, distressed communities by creating a mutual benefit for both investor and the community,” Menendez said.
Sen. Menendez says the numbers don’t lie: the New Market Tax Credit has created 359,000 jobs across the country and 12,000 in New Jersey since 2003.
The Newark Farmers Market will take advantage of the tax credits once again by expanding this facility, to add 130,000 square feet and 150 new jobs next year.
“So it’s really important that we develop a sustainable, reliable pipeline of these credits so that we can shape development on a meaninful scale in New Jersey,” said Wayne Meyer of New Jersey Community Capital.
Menendez says his colleagues in the Senate need to recognize how the tax credit benefits some many working families.