Two women-owned businesses in Passaic County have received help from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s Business Improvement Incentive Program, allowing them to build in two formerly vacant buildings.
With the help of a $19,000 award, Jenny Zapata transformed a Lexington Avenue building into Arepa Express, a 2,500-square-foot restaurant serving up hot Hispanic food. The award allowed Zapata a new kitchen, plumbing, painting, electric work, counters and signage.
For Josefa Cabrera, the $20,000 available to her will allow her to renovate a Market Street property to open a new location of her bakery La Flor De Puebla, where she sells baked goods inspired by her hometown of Puebla, Mexico.
BII, in conjunction with the EDA’s Business Lease Incentive Program, is designed to support the growth of first-floor retail and services businesses operating in Garden State Growth Zones throughout Passaic, Paterson, Atlantic City, Camden and Trenton.
Both businesses will bring jobs to the community, with Zapata expecting to hire 16 full-time and 18 part-time employees, and Cabrera expecting to expand her staff from three people to eight people over the next two years.
“We’re excited to be a new option for diners here in Passaic City,” Zapata said in a statement. “I am grateful that the EDA’s BII Program helped fund many of infrastructure improvements necessary to get us to this point.”
The BII and BLI programs launched last year on a pilot basis, with up to $200,000 available per city per year over the three-year life of the programs.