NEWARK, NJ — A proposed nine-mile greenway path that will wind through Hudson and Essex counties received critical support from Newark business leaders this week as the project enters its earliest stages of planning and surveying.

The support included endorsements from area businesses and civic organizations, stemming from positive business/economic impact and job creation potential the greenway path would bring to northern New Jersey.

“Communities that involve themselves directly in the development of greenways find that such activity assists area employers to attract talent, enhance recruitment, and retain valuable employees,” said Chris Bernardo, President and CEO of Commercial District Services. “Nationwide, communities of all sizes are finding positive economic impact and significant business development as a result of increased tourism, enhanced connectivity, and stronger downtowns.”

Once constructed, officials said the project has the potential to benefit the communities it connects like Newark.

In a 2017 report by the Outdoor Industry Association, it found that outdoor recreation, including greenways, generates $887 billion annually, creates 7.6 million American jobs, $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue, and $59.2 billion in state and local revenue, all the while making communities healthier and safer.

The Open Space Institute and its partners have already begun investing in planning, surveying, environmental assessments, and more on the project. The preliminary work itself is already supporting jobs associated with planning and acquisition work and is expected to lead to hundreds more design including engineering and construction jobs, officials said.

“As our society emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, and our overall economy recovers, members of our community may be looking for new or alternate employment options,” said Felix Lopez Montalvo, former president of the Mt. Prospect Avenue Special Improvement District. “In addition to the jobs created by the early planning for the Greenway, we look forward to the influx on jobs and business during its construction.”

In terms of job creation, a United States Fish & Wildlife Survey found that a project like the Essex-Hudson Greenway will generate more jobs than a comparable infrastructure project, like new highways.

A 2019 study by the East Coast Greenway Alliance reported a similar economic multiplier effect after a 2012 study found that for each $1 million investment in greenways, bike lanes and sidewalks, 17 jobs were created – a nearly 50% more additional jobs than other transportation-related projects.

“I am excited about the prospect of how the Essex-Hudson Greenway would complement efforts to strengthen the Mount Prospect neighborhood and the City of Newark,” said Michelle Lolo, CEO of Hope & Esperanza Community Health Center.  “The growing investments in medical and health related enterprises in this community will not only generate opportunities for job expansion and support area businesses, but, like the planned linear park, will promote a healthier lifestyle for our residents.”

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