Perth Amboy Restructures Economic Revitalization Approach

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Helga Van Eckert

PERTH AMBOY — The city restructured its approach to economic revitalization and growth by uniting offices promoting economic development.

For more than a decade, the city has operated separate offices for the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ), the Business Improvement District (BID), Redevelopment and Economic and Community Development. These powerful economic development functions, while remaining separate divisions, have been united to balance the growth of new business with the revitalization of existing commerce.


“This change ensures that the city’s efforts are coordinated, efficient and effective,” said Mayor Wilda Diaz. “This administration can and will provide the leadership, set the policy and broadly communicate the message that we are open for business.”

Officials believe that uniting these economic development functions will spur economic development through the development and implementation of an innovative economic development strategy that capitalizes on the city’s many assets.

“The city offers a wealth of attractions for business and industry, including a bustling downtown, a thriving waterfront, an unrivaled transportation network and a location at the heart of one of the world’s largest consumer markets,” said Helga Van Eckert, who leads the new team. “This restructuring will enhance our ability to make it as easy as possible for businesses to grow and succeed in our city.”

Van Eckert, who was formerly executive director of the Redevelopment Agency, has been named executive director of the Office of Economic and Community Development, Redevelopment, UEZ and BID.

In her new role, van Eckert will focus setting economic development policy, attracting new business and commerce, developing innovative new programs to encourage and support the expansion of existing businesses and ensuring that the city’s community development initiatives are in alignment with its long-term goals of enhancing its image, stabilizing local property taxes and creating new jobs.

“Helga has been instrumental in Perth Amboy’s progress to date and I’m confident in her ability to take on these new responsibilities, as well as to develop the team that will move the city forward,” Diaz said. “It’s important that these divisions function seamlessly together in order to realize Perth Amboy’s true potential to become one of the state’s most economically vibrant communities.”

Roxana Troche, who has served as assistant coordinator for the Perth Amboy UEZ program for 10 years, has been promoted to coordinator of the UEZ and manager of the BID.

Troche will spearhead many of the UEZ and BID’s new initiatives. Additionally, she will administer the UEZ program at the local level, coordinating processes and procedures with the comptroller’s office, the purchasing department and other city offices. She will also coordinate with state authorities, including the UEZ Authority, the Division of Taxation and the Division of Revenue to assist businesses through the certification process.

As a result of the restructuring, the city’s economic development functions will be concentrated, providing what Troche has called “one-stop shopping” for businesses that want to invest or expand in or relocate to the city, as well as providing assistance to promote the growth and success of existing businesses.

The many tools for business and commercial development that the new team plans to employ include assistance with investment capital and tax incentives, the elimination of blight and the remediation of environmental contamination, an innovative new marketing program, the improvement of customer service and the creation of a business friendly environment.

In addition, the powerful financial incentives currently offered through the UEZ include:

  • A 50 percent reduction in the sales tax for customers in the UEZ
  • Employee tax credits, sales and use tax exemptions for businesses in the UEZ
  • Unemployment insurance rebates and low interest loans

The BID also offers valuable resources for local businesses, including matching grants of up to $5,000 for fa├žade improvements. The BID also sponsors programs to address graffiti and gum removal, events such as the popular “First Fridays” summer events and a business outreach program that offers valuable business information and seminars to local business owners.

The UEZ, BID and redevelopment agency are supported by volunteer community boards that allow them to capitalize on local business acumen and experience to craft programs and strategic initiatives that are geared to economic growth and sustainability.

For more information about the UEZ and BID program or the City of Perth Amboy, visit

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