US Commerce Department Invests $960K to Spur Newark Business, Innovation

construction site

Media Outlet


Tony Gallotto

NEWARK, NJ — The U.S. Department of Commerce is investing $960,000 to encourage minority-owned construction businesses and innovative startups in the City of Newark.

The agency’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded the competitive $960,000 grant to The Enterprise Center, based in Philadelphia. The city, however, must match the federal funds with $240,000, making $1.2 million available for the initiative.

The Enterprise Center, which has a Camden satellite office, says it will establish a Newark-based Infrastructure Innovation & Business Opportunities Center, and expects to create a hundred new local jobs, and generate $50 million more in private investment.

The EDA grant is meant to connect socially and economically disadvantaged contractors and businesses to large-scale infrastructure projects in the region.

The Enterprise Center’s new opportunity center “will provide local contracting firms with the necessary resources to procure large-scale infrastructure projects in northern New Jersey and New York City, creating jobs and economic diversification in the region,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, assistant US commerce secretary for economic development.

Gov. Phil Murphy said New Jersey “looks forward to welcoming The Enterprise Center to the Garden State’s largest city,” saying its initiative is likely to “generate tens of millions of dollars in private investment as we continue to modernize and bolster critical infrastructure in one of the most important transportation corridors in the world.”

“The Infrastructure Innovations & Business Opportunities Center will compliment (state) efforts to expand economic opportunity by connecting historically disadvantaged contractors to projects and generating family-sustaining jobs,” Murphy said in a prepared statement.

Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr. (D-NJ-10) said he appreciates the EDA’s funding for a new opportunity center in Newark. “I have been a strong supporter of actions to create more opportunities for women and minority-owned businesses … we must do everything we can to create a level playing field for all infrastructure projects,” Payne said.

Payne, and U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, both Democrats, have pushed for more federal funding to create more better-paying jobs for New Jerseyans in the building trades, and generate large-scale infrastructure projects to support regional communities.