ERMA - Tax abatements for new businesses at the county airport could bring more jobs to Lower Township.
Deputy Mayor Norris Clark presented a preliminary report from the township’s Economic Development Advisory Board at a Sept. 16 township council meeting. He noted Cape May County had the third highest unemployment rate in the nation.
“We know this is because of a seasonal economy, we know this is because of lot of retired folks but it’s still a high number,” he said.
Clark said while campaigning for office, residents told him of their children graduating from high school and moving away from the county due to a lack of gainful employment. He said the board made a promise to address the problem.
Clark said he and Mayor Michael Beck have discussed tax abatements for businesses that invest in capital improvements in properties they are renting at the airport.
“You can’t talk about economic development without thinking about the Cape May County Airport,” Clark said.
The mayor said it would be unlikely a large firm such as IBM would move into the airport but a number of small businesses locating there could add up to a bigger picture when it comes to employment. He said council would look at tax abatements at the airport at a future work session.
Clark said a tax abatement would be based on capital improvements made by a business over a five-year period. A tax abatement would be given on the cost of the improvements.
The success of Cape May Brewing, located at the county airport, has put the township on the map in terms of craft beer, said Clark.
Ryan Krill, president of Cape May Brewing Company, said his brewery started two-and–a- half years ago with his friend Chris and his father, initially making 50 gallons at a time.
“Today, we now have a shiny, brand new 500 gallon brew system,” he said. “We have 10 employees, all of whom have health benefits and year-round employment.”
Krill said the brewery had 50 accounts located throughout Cape May and Atlantic counties. The business expanded from one unit in a strip of rental spaces in the airport into three and will move into a larger building in the airport.
He said new ventures often begin during times of recession or difficult economic times whether due to unemployment or underemployment.
“What these new ventures are going to need is cheap rent, they’re going to need expandability and they’re going to need a good landlord, one that’s not necessarily interested in getting top dollar of rent,” said Krill. “In my opinion, the airport is ripe for this type of development.”
He noted the airport is the only industrial space in the lower part of the county. Krill said the units in his block were vacant when the brewery opened but are now 100 percent occupied.
“Give an incentive for folks to come to the airport,” he said. “Invest in the airport and those businesses will invest in Lower Township.”
Township Manager Mike Voll said the township would work with the county and DRBA to enhance business development at the airport.
(Photo caption: Ryan Krill, president of Cape May