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TRENTON - The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Dec. 30 announced the opening of a new application round for Main Street New Jersey (MSNJ) designations. 

According to a release, for the first time since 2015, DCA is accepting applications and will be designating qualified communities to join the MSNJ program. The prestigious MSNJ designation allows communities to receive on-and off-site technical assistance and training in downtown revitalization and management. It also allows MSNJ communities to apply for grant opportunities to assist with physical improvement projects in their designated districts.

“We are incredibly excited to open this new applicant round as we welcome additional municipalities to join the Main Street New Jersey program and look forward to reviewing the applications we receive,” stated Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who also serves as DCA commissioner. “The MSNJ designation provides a great opportunity for towns to partner with local small businesses owners and entrepreneurs to foster public and private reinvestment in their historic New Jersey downtowns.”

The MSNJ program, within DCA’s Office of Local Planning Services, promotes the historic and economic redevelopment of traditional business districts, in New Jersey, by providing training and technical assistance to designated MSNJ districts. The purpose of the program is to assist the development of preservation-based downtown revitalization initiatives, including strengthening the existing tax base, increasing sales, creating a positive community image with attractive and viable downtown buildings, attracting new businesses, creating new jobs, increasing investment in the downtown, and preserving historic architectural resources.

To apply, applicants must be a recognized 501(c)(3), (c)(4) or (c)(6) organization, with the primary mission of revitalizing a commercial district and shall have municipal support codified by a resolution of the host municipality. Application guidelines and criteria can be found on the DCA website, at nj.gov/dca/divisions/lps/msnj.html

All documents must be sent via email to msnjmail@dca.nj.gov. Applications will be accepted from Feb. 1 through March 31, 2021, and will be evaluated independently by MSNJ staff and various state agencies. DCA will designate and announce the new MSNJ communities in May 2021.

In addition to the ongoing technical support and training provided by DCA, designated MSNJ district organizations may also be eligible for grant opportunities to assist with physical improvement projects that occur within designated districts as well as to support the development and implementation of their transformation strategies to the extent funding is available.

There are currently 21 designated communities in the Main Street New Jersey Program. Since the program’s inception, in 1989, there has been more than $1 billion in public-private investment in Main Street designated communities, with a net gain of 1,400 new and expanded businesses and a net increase of 6,680 jobs. Between 1997 and 2020, residents, merchants and property owners have also donated nearly $9.4 million in volunteer wage time to support their local Main Street programs.

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