Economic Development

Too often, states and cities pursue economic development strategies that amount to little more than tax giveaways to big corporations. Pushing back on this flawed approach, EARN groups design and promote smart economic development policies that invest in infrastructure, in people, and in the communities where opportunity is lacking.

Smart economic development means strong workforce development programs, such as apprenticeships and sector strategies; infrastructure investments in transportation, schools, broadband, and healthcare; and community development projects that deliver good, high-paying jobs to local residents, especially in communities of color, and other underserved communities.

Publications

Shining a Light on New Jersey’s FY 2022 Budget

From the rubble of a chaotic legislative process rises a record-breaking state budget that funds the immediate needs of New Jersey’s pandemic recovery, invests in key public assets, and pays down billions of dollars of current and future debt. Buoyed by stronger-than-expected income and sales tax collections, the $46.4 billion spending bill is approximately 15 percent bigger than last year’s budget. A large portion of the unexpected surplus is directed toward long-standing obligations like the public employee pension system and debt service on borrowing — as it should. By almost every metric, this budget sets the foundation for a strong recovery and addresses fiscal issues that have plagued the state for decades. At the same time, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget misses a significant opportunity to enact bold, transformative changes that directly address centuries of racial and economic inequities that were exacerbated by the pandemic.

Best Practices for Local and State Prioritization of American Rescue Plan Act Funds

Under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), states, cities, counties, U.S. territories, and tribal nations will receive a total of $350 billion in Fiscal Recovery Funds to respond to the COVID-19 emergency and help bring back jobs. In West Virginia, the state government will receive $1.355 billion and cities, municipalities, and counties will receive a total of $676.6 million. ARPA funds are already flowing into communities and our state and can be used on eligible costs incurred through December 31, 2024.

On May 10, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued3 an Interim Final Rule providing guidance to recipient governments that explains how the Treasury will interpret the ARPA legislation’s language and administer the Fiscal Recovery Funds.

This document will focus on the allocations to cities, municipalities, counties, and the state of West Virginia, and will highlight both best practices and Treasury guidance to inform government officials and residents about the parameters for spending and the best ways to utilize these funds to make long-term improvements in our communities.

When determining whether or not a proposal should utilize ARPA Fiscal Recovery Funds, local and state elected officials and decision-making bodies should assess whether the proposed expenditure has broad public benefits in addition to ensuring that it falls under an approved category. A public benefit test will help to maximize the impact of these funds to address longstanding community needs.

Introducing the State of Opportunity Index

New Jersey does best when all residents can reach their full potential, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or neighborhood. This requires quality public education, safe and affordable housing, jobs that pay well, healthy places to live, reliable transportation, and assurance of just law enforcement practices, among other essentials. Yet many residents across the state still face persistent barriers, despite decades of progress. These disparities are particularly acute for people of color and women who face the compounding effects of racism and sexism. But by having a clearer idea of the challenges we face and where they manifest, we can better plan our efforts for policy advocacy.