Business and economic development plans

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles on how Paterson’s mayoral candidates plan to solve the city’s problems. An earlier history examined crime rate.

PATERSON—The federal government unemployment New Jersey city stats reveal a good news and bad news scenario for Paterson.

The good: Paterson’s unemployment rate in February fell into single digits for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The bad: The local unemployment rate of 8.8% for February, the most recent month available, was higher than any other major city in the state. Camden came in at 8.4%, Jersey City at 4.5% and Newark at 7.2%, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The five mayoral candidates in Paterson’s May 10 election often speak about the importance of spurring economic development in New Jersey’s third-most populous city. Construction project announcements regularly include estimates of jobs to be created.

Mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration says it has attracted $800 million in development projects over the past four years and significantly reduced vacant and abandoned properties in the city.

Paterson Press asked the five male mayoral candidates about their economic development plans for the next four years, including how they would encourage investment, what types of projects they would pursue and which areas of the city they would focus on.

Here’s what they had to say:

Advisor Michael Jackson

If elected, Jackson said he would end Paterson’s use of private contractors for services he says can be handled by the city government, such as garbage collection.

By stopping all outsourcing, Jackson said he would shift the jobs of foreigners working for private companies from elsewhere and give work to Paterson residents who would be hired by the city government.

The change would have an economic ripple effect, he said, because townspeople would then be more likely to spend the money they earn within Paterson.

“If Paterson ever has a chance of recovering, he needs to invest in himself and stop allowing bad development projects to take advantage of his residents,” the councilman said.

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Jackson said the city government currently spends more than $12 million a year on service contracts with companies outside of Paterson. “If we could keep a third in the city, that would be an additional $4 million for Paterson,” Jackson said.

The councilman said the city should also find ways to keep lucrative road resurfacing contracts from going to outside companies. “Keep millions of dollars out of town. This is the path to economic recovery,” he said.

Advisor Alex Mendez

Mendez said Paterson should seek the return of well-paying manufacturing jobs to the city, while increasing tech and construction employment through infrastructure improvements.

The councilman said he would try to take advantage of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 to improve public transportation with an improved commuter rail system. The current Paterson station has one of the lowest per capita ridership rates in NJ Transit’s system, according to transit agency data.

Mendez also said he would work to improve bus services and create low-cost parking options in developing areas of the city. The councilor said improving infrastructure will attract new business investment, including housing.

Mendez said he would attract investors without offering them long-term tax breaks by emphasizing Paterson’s “particularly advantageous location for shipping, warehousing and manufacturing businesses.”

“A Mendez administration will seek to cooperate with new employers seeking to take advantage of our location by entering into agreements where a reasonable percentage of employees and executives will live in the city,” Mendez said.

Mayor André Sayegh

Mayor Andre Sayegh in front of a mixed commercial and residential development under construction in South Paterson last August.

The mayor said that if re-elected he would continue to focus on development in the area around the great falls, in a bid to triple the number of visitors to the national park, saying tourism will boost Paterson’s economy.

Sayegh called the area around Paterson station “an underutilized rough diamond that I hope to polish in my next term”. In particular, the mayor cited long-delayed plans for a new car park opposite the station, as well as a residential and commercial development meant to include 160 apartments.

He plans to focus on “Amazon-like warehousing” as a way to generate long-term jobs in the city, citing a recent announcement about a huge Getty Avenue Warehouse project. Sayegh said he will bring similar development to the Bunker Hill area of ​​Paterson.

The first-term mayor said his administration has significantly reduced the number of derelict properties in Paterson and wants to “return the remaining 400 properties to productive use” over the next four years.

Finally, the mayor said he would work to double the fees developers have to pay the municipal government for sewer connections.

Councilor Luis Velez

Velez said as mayor he would find a way to meet both the city’s economic needs and those of investors. “Finding that balance is not easy, but it will be achievable,” the councilman said. He said he would achieve that balance by ensuring the city handles development projects fairly, without favoritism.

Velez said an important part of his economic development plan would involve reducing crime and addressing Paterson’s many quality-of-life issues, such as noise and vagrancy.

The councilman also said holding developers accountable would be a top priority.

“The developers have to make sure the community of Paterson benefits from what they do,” he said. “They need to get more community feedback. They have to integrate into our community. They are the ones who move in. »

Asked if a hardline approach would scare off investors, Velez said he would primarily impose tougher requirements on developers seeking government assistance for their projects, such as tax breaks or grants. “We can’t tell developers what to do with their money,” the councilman said.

This rendering depicts a planned residential development on Totowa Avenue in Paterson

Former Councilman Aslan Goow

Goow said he would prioritize the redevelopment of dilapidated properties in Paterson, especially given the city’s lack of open space. The former councilman said he would try to “redevelop these structures for purposes that will benefit Paterson, such as community centers, businesses, affordable housing or mixed-use buildings.”

Goow said he would end what he called a trend of directing projects to “certain developers” that he says hasn’t benefited the city.

“I will ensure we have an Affirmative Action Officer who will enforce our development agreement for our citizens,” the former councilman said.

Goow said its economic redevelopment efforts will emphasize Paterson’s history, its downtown business district and its neighborhood issues.

“Affordable housing for seniors will play an important role in my economic and redevelopment plan for our city, as well as the homelessness situation we face, as well as solving the city’s homelessness problem. “, did he declare.

Goow also highlighted the need to improve public safety in Paterson in order to generate economic growth.

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