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EDA approves Sandy aid, launches health tech accelerator

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In a meeting of its board today, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority moved to help businesses hurt by Hurricane Sandy and also created a new accelerator for life sciences and health care information technology firms.

The board approved a $500,000 loan to the Cooperative Business Assistance Corp., in Camden, as part of its two-month-old Hurricane Sandy relief program. Under the arrangement, CBAC will use the money to lend to small businesses affected by the storm.

"As Governor (Chris) Christie recently announced, the EDA hopes to be able to get assistance to impacted businesses as quickly as possible to ensure they have the capital they need to resume, maintain or grow their operations," said EDA CEO Michele Brown.

The EDA also approved the creation of a new life sciences/health care IT accelerator. The accelerator, to be housed at the agency's Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies, in North Brunswick, will be modeled after the TechLaunch technology accelerator EDA created last year, and "will allow us to capitalize on the talent in our region, and provide an environment that catalyzes innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation," Brown said.

The EDA expects about 10 companies to participate in the new accelerator. They'll receive between $20,000 and $100,000 in seed money, and be required to raise $2 in private-sector funding for every dollar they receive from the state.

Participants will undergo a "boot camp" training session, with mentorship and networking opportunities. At the end of the boot camp, they'll demonstrate their products and business models at a formal showcase event.

The board also approved a number of incentive awards.

Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics Inc. was granted a $36.6 million Grow New Jersey award. The EDA is hoping to convince the company to renovate and expand its health care diagnostics devices facility in Mount Olive, rather than relocating out of state. If Siemens chooses to stay, the project would create about 525 jobs.

The board approved three Business Employment Incentive Program awards.

Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies North America Inc. was approved for a $561,000 BEIP grant if the company decides to expand its Camden-based biological treatment systems unit in New Jersey, rather than Pennsylvania. The company plans to add 20 jobs in the next two years.

Illinois-based Nosco Inc., which makes packaging products, was awarded $307,000, contingent upon its decision to establish a new facility in Branchburg, as opposed to locations in Pennsylvania and Virginia. The company expects to create 50 jobs.

Finally, Dade Paper & Bag Co. was awarded $86,000 to expand its distribution capabilities in New Jersey. The company currently has a center in East Brunswick, and is looking either to move to a larger facility in South Brunswick, or relocate the center to Maryland. Dade plans to create 25 new jobs.

The BEIP awards would be paid out over the course of 10 years.

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