Fair Lawn, New Jersey Selected for Inaugural Federal Economic Transformation Program

Fair Lawn, New Jersey Selected for Inaugural Federal Economic Transformation Program

TRENTON, NJ — Fair Lawn Main Street Inc., a public-private partnership charged with facilitating and coordinating the strengthening of the Borough of Fair Lawn’s economic and commercial vitality, has been selected as a host organization in the first cohort of the International Economic Development Council’s Economic Recovery Corps (ERC).

“It is a remarkable achievement for the Borough of Fair Lawn to represent the economic vitality of New Jersey on a national level,” said Wesley Mathews, President and CEO of Choose New Jersey. “Fair Lawn’s continued achievements as part of the inaugural cohort of the Federal Economic Transformation Project will serve as a great example of how strategic partnerships can promote transformative economic change.”

Authorized under the CARES Act and created through a $30 million cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the ERC Fellowship was launched to address long-standing economic issues in America that surfaced during the COVID-19 pandemic by connecting organizations with the talent and capacity needed to advance new ways of doing economic development that promote economic resilience and transformative change.

“This inaugural cohort of the Economic Recovery Corps has the potential to infuse new energy and new opportunities in regional economic development nationwide,” commented U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo.

From over 500 host applications, 65 host organizations were selected. Host sites are located across 44 states and territories and represent a cross-section of rural, urban, and tribal communities.

The ERC Program matched 65 host sites nationwide with a dedicated Fellow, fully funded for 2.5 years, to work towards advancing a project critical to the economic recovery of the local host community.

“ERC is more than a fellowship; it is a testament to the power of collaboration and strategic partnerships deeply needed to produce lasting social and economic impact. By joining forces with national partners, host organizations, funders, and practitioners eager for new models and practices, ERC will build capacity in places of need while supporting the next generation of economic development leaders, all while driving more equitable economic outcomes,” said Nathan Ohle, President & CEO of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

Fair Lawn Main Street Inc. is among the 65 host organizations to be chosen for this inaugural federal program. Fair Lawn, which is one of the largest municipalities within Bergen County, is the only New Jersey location to be selected as a host site.

“This is an exciting program that marries talented planners and place-makers to communities ready to raise their profile,” explained IEDC Board Member and New Jersey Resident Jessica Paolini. “What emerges in Fair Lawn will be a great example of economic development for other communities in New Jersey and beyond.”

“My administration and I would like to congratulate the Borough of Fair Lawn on this tremendous accomplishment. The fact that Fair Lawn is the sole New Jersey municipality to be chosen for this program underscores Bergen County’s unwavering role as the Economic Engine of New Jersey. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Borough of Fair Lawn as they revitalize their Broadway Special Improvement District and strengthen their economic and commercial vitality through this exciting resource,” said Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco.

Created in 2023 by bringing together the Fair Lawn Economic Development Corporation, River Road Improvement Corporation, and Broadway Improvement Corporation, Fair Lawn Main Street Inc. is responsible for executing programs to enhance the local business climate and manage the special improvement districts within the Borough of Fair Lawn. Among these special improvement districts is the Broadway commercial corridor along NJ Route 4.

“We knew the best way to support our business community and facilitate the revitalization of the Broadway Special Improvement District would be through collaborations with partners like the Bergen County Division of Economic Development, the New Jersey Transit Corporation, and the New Jersey Business Action Center,” explained Fair Lawn Councilmember Gail Rottenstrich.

Throughout 2023, specialists from the New Jersey Department of State’s Business Action Center toured Fair Lawn, met with local business and community leaders, and developed placemaking and revitalization plans for the Broadway Special Improvement District. These plans were ultimately used as the bedrock of Fair Lawn Main Street Inc.’s successful application to have an ERC Fellow assigned to work on revitalizing the Broadway Special Improvement District.

“By supporting place-based revitalization and business prosperity for local governments and district management entities, the NJBAC  helps communities achieve local business enhancement goals,” said Melanie Willoughby, Executive Director of the New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC). “Our assistance and guidance services, which are always free for New Jersey districts and businesses, contribute to sustaining effective and resilient local economies. We use a variety of resources and planning tools to problem-solve and implement best practices to support districts and their needs.”

The Fellow at each selected host site will act as a field catalyst to build, strengthen, and coordinate relationships and local efforts alongside their host community. Fair Lawn’s ERC Fellow’s revitalization project of the Broadway Special Improvement District entails district planning and design, beautification, customer attraction strategies, stakeholder engagement, and program delivery.

“Fair Lawn’s selection for the ERC program is deeply exciting for the 38th District, and our office looks forward to working with the Fellow and Fair Lawn Main Street Inc. to advance the revitalization of the Broadway Special Improvement District,” said Assemblywoman Lisa Swain.

Officially starting in February 2024, all 65 Fellows will begin their two-and-a-half-year field placements with host organizations across the nation and start working on their assigned economic development projects.

“I’m proud to have helped pass the bipartisan legislation making this federal investment in Fair Lawn possible. By clawing more than $275,000 back to North Jersey from the federal government, we’re able to support local businesses and lower taxes by reducing the cost burden on our local governments — it’s a huge win-win for us all,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “If you need help applying for a grant, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.”

About the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) 

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 4,300 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities by creating, retaining, and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members engage in the full range of economic development practices. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in various settings, including local, state, provincial, and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities, and a variety of other institutions. When we succeed, our members create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities, and improve the quality of life in their regions. Learn more at www.iedconline.org.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. Learn more at eda.gov.

About Fair Lawn Main Street, Inc.

Fair Lawn Main Street Inc. is a public-private partnership responsible for management of the Borough of Fair Lawn’s special improvement districts and for executing programs to enhance the business and economic climates throughout the municipal community. Learn more at fairlawnmainstreet.com.

About the New Jersey Business Action Center 

The New Jersey Business Action Center serves as the State’s liaison to the business community, offering free information, services, and resources across various areas such as business registration, financial programs, regulatory compliance, property selection, workforce training, and more. NJBAC, a division of the Department of State, comprises multiple offices, including Business Advocacy, Export Promotion, Small Business Advocacy, State Planning, and the Cannabis Training Academy.  Access to NJBAC services is available through NJ DOS – NJ Business Action Center or Business.NJ.gov: Your first stop for doing business in NJ or by calling 1-800-JERSEY-7.

About Choose New Jersey

Choose New Jersey is the state’s leading non-profit business attraction organization. We harness the collective power of New Jersey’s business, government, labor, and academic sectors to expand New Jersey’s economy. We work globally, using our marketing expertise, concierge business development services, deep knowledge of the state, and convening power, in collaboration with state government, to empower businesses, entrepreneurs, leaders, and innovators to make New Jersey their home. Learn more at choosenj.com.

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