NJEDA Board Awards $3M in Grants to Support Public Space Activation in Atlantic City & Newark
$10M A.R.T. program aims to bring businesses & workers back to NJ’s commuter hubs after pandemic
Second tranche of funding for real estate projects to be awarded in early 2024
TRENTON, N.J. (December 19, 2023) – Last week, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Board approved $3 million in Public Space Activation Grants under the Activation, Revitalization and Transformation (A.R.T.) Program, to support the revitalization of Atlantic City and Newark, which both experienced negative economic impacts due to the pandemic. The four entities that were approved for grants today will invest in projects that create an environment necessary to attract and retain residents and talent, enable business creation and attractions, enhance downtown vitality, and help local governments avoid future budget crises.
“As a result of the pandemic, New Jersey’s thriving downtown commuter hubs saw decreased foot traffic and revenue as many residents and workers transitioned to remote work,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Governor Phil Murphy has made a commitment to bring a resurgence to our state’s downtowns by bringing more business, arts, and culture to attract residents and commuters. This first tranche of A.R.T. funding will help return the high rate of foot traffic that Atlantic City and Newark saw pre-pandemic.”
The A.R.T. program utilizes American Rescue Plan (ARP) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) to reactivate and revitalize Atlantic City and Newark’s commercial corridors in the wake of COVID-19. Commercial corridors play a vital role in both urban and rural geographies, serving as economic engines for communities by providing jobs that keep money circulating in the local economy, offer goods and services for residents, and power entrepreneurship as well as wealth building. They also serve to foster arts and cultural activities, which drive dynamic, thriving communities.
“The arts and festivals that celebrate our diversity are two strong magnets for bringing Newarkers together as a unified community and for bringing out-of-towners to our city for an experience they can’t get anywhere else,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “We are grateful to the NJEDA ART program for this profound gift that allows us to showcase world-class talent in our spectacular venues, and share the exuberance of Newark’s creative, artistic vitality.”
“Atlantic City thrives on tourism, and the ART Program will ensure some of our most popular sites will be around for years to come for our millions of visitors annually to enjoy,” said City of Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, Sr. “As we continue to look to put our pandemic hardships in the rearview, we appreciate everything the New Jersey Economic Development Authority has done for the Great City of Atlantic City, in this case for the many attractions that make this city so special.”
The following entities were approved for grants today:
- Newark Alliance, Inc. – $1,500,000
The Newark Alliance will use the grant to create and support the inauguration of Festivals United, a coordinated strategy, fundraising, operations, marketing and public relations campaign that will leverage the ongoing efforts of multiple existing festivals throughout the city. Festivals United is a new coalition of six major arts and cultural festivals based in Newark: AfroBeat Fest, Halsey Festival, Lincoln Park Music Festival, Newark Arts Festival, Newark Pride, and Newark Winter Village, all in partnership with Newark City Parks Foundation. By combining the operational strengths of various festivals into a unified organization, this initiative amplifies their collective social and economic impact, and enhances the city’s overall vibrancy.
- Stockton University – $1,001,300
Stockton University will lead a collaborative project with four Atlantic City Community Development Corporations to produce a major public space activation project. The funding will be used to support streetscape improvements, specifically forty wayfinding signs identifying non-casino cultural assets, four neighborhood branding gateways, 100 signs for the public murals, and a public tile installation in the heart of the city. The project also includes a comprehensive and collaborative citywide arts and cultural branding, marketing, and event coordination program that will increase social gatherings, activate vacant and underutilized space, and contribute to the resilience of the community.
- Inlet Public Private Association, Inc. – $250,000
Inlet Public Private Association was established to promote the redevelopment of the Inlet section of Atlantic City. The non-profit organization will use the funding to support and maintain the Historic Absecon Lighthouse and hire a grant writer to ensure additional grants for continued community growth. The lighthouse is open year-round for visitors and features a free museum and gift shop. The site also offers a community garden and the city’s only farmer’s market. Additionally, the Absecon Lighthouse provides educational art programs.
- Atlantic City Arts Foundation – $248,700
The non-profit organization is a key contributor to Atlantic City’s vitality and is the premier driver of arts and culture initiatives across the city. The Atlantic City Arts Foundation will use the funding to restore and protect eight murals damaged by time and weather. Funding will go towards purchasing supplies and materials to complete the restoration and support artist stipends.
“Newark has always led the way with world-class creative talent,” said Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark). “Today’s funding announcement will go towards the expansion of opportunities to showcase the depth of our cultural expressions and the role art can play in economic development. I applaud the Administration for making this commitment to our great city.”
“The A.R.T. Program will provide a significant boost to support the long-term economic success of Atlantic City, as well as the surrounding Jersey Shore communities, which are the lifeblood of our tourism industry,” said Senator Vince Polistina (R-Atlantic). “Millions of people travel from all over the world to enjoy our renowned boardwalks and beaches. This program will help our shore towns preserve and maintain these popular tourist destinations by enabling them to construct and make necessary repairs to these critical structures and landscapes.”
“Newark is quickly becoming a global epicenter of the arts and culture scene by attracting world-renowned visual and performing artists,” said Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “The grant funding announced today will strengthen the city’s ability to bring together key partners in this vital industry and to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than ever.”
“The ART Program was created to drive impactful community engagement and the award approved today will do just that,” said Assemblywoman Shanique Speight (D-Essex). “Leveraging this grant funding, Newark will continue attracting people to join our neighborhoods, take advantage of our arts and culture scenes, shop in our businesses, and stimulate our economy.”
“Atlantic City is a beautiful tapestry of arts, culture and history. Experiencing all that Atlantic City has to offer enriches the lives of residents and visitors alike, while also contributing to the city’s economic recovery,” said Assemblyman Don Guardian (R-Atlantic). “This funding will preserve and celebrate the diverse communities that honor Atlantic City’s past, present and future.”
“Fostering an appreciation for Atlantic City’s heritage, its murals and public space requires investment and collaboration. This grant program gives communities an opportunity to shine and share their stories. It also strengthens Atlantic City’s ability to succeed, because it recognizes the importance of all of the city’s unique assets and offerings,” said Assemblywoman Claire Swift (R-Atlantic).
In 2024, the NJEDA will announce Real Estate Rehabilitation and Development grants under the A.R.T. Program. To mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19 and support the development and recovery of New Jersey’s commercial corridors, the A.R.T. Program will invest in the infrastructure, capacity building, and resources necessary to help Atlantic City and Newark recover from the pandemic and thrive for years to come.
“Arts and culture are critical to a city’s vibrancy and can serve as a powerful tool to move economies forward” said NJEDA Chief Community Development Officer Tai Cooper. “The grants approved today will support meaningful projects that will help uplift Atlantic City and Newark neighborhoods and illuminate New Jersey’s rich and storied legacy in the arts.”
About the NJEDA
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) serves as the State’s principal agency for driving economic growth. The NJEDA is committed to making New Jersey a national model for inclusive and sustainable economic development by focusing on key strategies to help build strong and dynamic communities, create good jobs for New Jersey residents, and provide pathways to a stronger and fairer economy. Through partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders, the NJEDA creates and implements initiatives to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the State and strengthen New Jersey’s long-term economic competitiveness.
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