Press Release
August 29, 2018
2 minute read

​EDA Program Helps Two Women-Owned Passaic City Eateries Transform Vacant Properties into Thriving Businesses

TRENTON, N.J. (August 29, 2018) – A newly-opened restaurant on Lexington Avenue and a bakery on Market Street are the latest Passaic City businesses to make improvements to their facilities with support from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (EDA’s) Business Improvement Incentive (BII) Program.
Together with the Business Lease Incentive (BLI) Program, the BII Program is designed to support the growth of first-floor retail and services businesses operating in eligible commercial areas of Garden State Growth Zones (GSGZ), designated as Passaic, Paterson, Atlantic City, Camden, and Trenton through the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act.

Administered by the EDA in collaboration with the GSGZs, the BII Program offers grants of up to 50 percent of total project costs for small businesses that are planning to make improvements to their property. The grant amount cannot exceed $20,000, with a minimum project cost of $5,000. The program is available to first-floor businesses in targeted commercial corridors.
Entrepreneur Jenny Zapata opened Arepa Express at 2327 Lexington Avenue earlier this month, transforming a formerly unoccupied building into a 2,500-square-foot restaurant offering Hispanic food. Arepa Express was approved for up to $19,000 through the BII Program, which supported the installation of a new kitchen, plumbing, painting, electric work, counters and signage.
“We’re excited to be a new option for diners here in Passaic City,” Zapata said. “I am grateful that the EDA’s BII Program helped fund many of infrastructure improvements necessary to get us to this point.”
Zapata expects to hire 16 full-time and 18 part-time employees within the next two years.
La Flor De Puebla Bakery & Pastry, named for owner Josefa Cabrera’s hometown of Puebla City in Mexico, sells baked goods including cakes, cupcakes and Gelatina Flotatina, which is a ring-shaped confection with cream filling. Cabrera plans to renovate a formerly-vacant commercial property at 174 Market Street as the new location for her business, with support of up to $20,000 from the BII Program. She intends to open La Flor De Puebla at its new spot, which is down the street from where the eatery stood for a decade, once renovations are complete.
Project costs for each business were estimated at $45,000.
“Our new, more-visible location has the potential to attract many more clients,” Cabrera said. “Thanks to support from the BII Program, we can make much-needed upgrades and continue providing delicious food to the local community.”
Cabrera currently has three full-time employees and expects to double that number – and hire two part-time workers – within two years of completing the renovations.
The BII and BLI programs were launched in June 2017 on a pilot basis and up to $200,000 is available per city, per year, over the three-year life of the programs.
“Investing in locally-owned business is essential to spurring economic opportunities within cities around New Jersey,” said Senior GSGZ Development Officer Christina Fuentes, who manages the BII and BLI programs for the EDA. “Helping entrepreneurs like Jenny and Josefa further their goals of providing goods and opportunities to their local communities is at the core of the EDA’s mission.”
Detailed maps of eligible locations in Passaic and all GSGZs are available at

For general program questions and more information about eligible locations, contact Fuentes at 609-858-6663 or

The EDA offers a range of resources to support small business growth, including low-interest loans and bond financing. Visit and follow @NewJerseyEDA on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn to learn more.