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EDA approves $40 million incentive for Honeywell

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Honeywell International Inc. was awarded a $40 million grant to stay at its Morris Township headquarters, two years after the state tried to retain the company with a smaller incentive.

At its meeting today, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority board approved the Grow New Jersey award, as well as another $40 million Grow New Jersey award for Dotcom Distribution and a $50.3 million Urban Transit Hub tax credit for a supermarket project in Camden.

The board also designated $100 million in Urban Transit Hub funds for residential development and approved incentives to other businesses.

It was a busy final meeting for Caren S. Franzini, who is stepping down as authority CEO at the end of September.

Franzini said it was expected Honeywell would apply for a grant under the expanded Business Retention and Relocation Assistance Grant program in 2010, but it never applied. In that time, the company's estimate for redeveloping its headquarters had doubled from $50 million to $100 million. Honeywell officials now say that a larger state incentive is necessary as it weighs moving to Pennsylvania.

Dotcom Distribution, which serves as a distributor for e-commerce retailers, is considering whether to accept an offer from J.G. Petrucci Co. to build a 571,000-square-foot facility next to its current Edison building, or moving its operation to Pennsylvania. The company would retain 623 jobs and add 200 if it stays in the state.

In earmarking $100 million in transit hub funds for residential development, EDA officials said they anticipate the board will consider $386 million in projects in "the next several months." Of the $1.75 billion in available funds, $1.24 billion already have been approved for projects.

The Camden project, adjacent to the Ferry Avenue PATCO station, would include 66,000 square feet of retail, including a 55,000-square-foot Fresh Grocer store; 34,000 square feet of office space, to be occupied by an affiliate of Our Lady of Lourdes Care Services Inc.; and a 700-space parking garage. Partners in applicant Haddon Avenue UTH Holdings LLC include the Camden County Improvement Authority, Our Lady of Lourdes, The Fresh Grocer, Grapevine Capital Ventures LLC and Coopers Ferry Partnership.

In other actions, the board approved 63 applications for the Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program. The businesses will be able to sell their net operating losses and research and development tax credits to profitable businesses, allowing the buyers to lower their tax liability. The state has set aside $60 million for the program. Seven applicants were turned down for the program.

The board also approved up to $5.06 million for the construction of Margaritaville at Resorts, which also is receiving $12.5 million from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. The EDA funding is from the Economic Redevelopment and Growth grant program.

Franzini cited an EDA estimate that the project will bring $6.4 million in net benefits to the state. "We're very conservative here, and believe it is much higher than that," Franzini said of the potential benefit.

In addition, the board amended the Edison Innovation Venture Capital Growth Fund to increase the maximum funding per project from $500,000 to $1 million.

The board awarded Business Employment Incentive Program and Business Retention & Relocation Assistance Grant program funding to the following companies: biotechnology business Celldex Therapeutics Inc., which would receive a BEIP of $3.93 million to add 110 jobs in Clinton in Hunterdon County; electrochemical machining firm Everite Machine Products Co., a $505,000 BEIP to add 100 jobs at a site to be determined; national direct mortgage lender Real Estate Mortgage Network Inc., a $588,000 BEIP to add 82 jobs in the state and a $459,000 BRRAG to retain 204 jobs; and Spectrum Laboratory Products Inc., a $277,000 BEIP to move 30 jobs from California and Arizona to New Brunswick.

EDA staff members said 80 percent of 2011 BEIP recipients followed through with investments in the state, while 77 percent of BRRAG recipients did. Both statistics were higher than in previous years, Franzini said.

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