A light is brightest when seen in the dark—that was the message Rep. Josh Gottheimer was offering as he offered his plan for a new online Infrastructure Investment Portal under a bridge on July 10.
Joined by union members and local politicians underneath the structurally deficient Route 4 Hackensack River Bridge in Teaneck, Gottheimer announced his office is creating a new online portal that offers real-time information on, and the ability to track, competitive Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill federal investment grant opportunities for the towns and counties in North Jersey.
“Too often, the Moocher States end up winning federal infrastructure grants simply because our towns and counties may not have known they were eligible,” said the 5th District Congressman. “This new Infrastructure Investment Portal will be a one-stop-shop of information and will help educate towns, counties, and nonprofits on available grants—and will help all of us track what we’ve applied for.”
The portal is something that Gottheimer noted that other states, like Michigan and Louisiana, use to help them win federal grants by offering easy-to-use websites that list in real-time all the infrastructure grants their towns are eligible for, while many towns and counties in North Jersey may be unaware.
The one-stop-shop webpage is promoted as educating towns, counties, and nonprofits on available grants they’re eligible for to ensure that qualifying local infrastructure projects are federally funded — helping take a burden off local budgets to save taxpayers money, creating jobs, and starting projects faster to improve North Jersey’s infrastructure.
Returning Federal Dollars to North Jersey
“We need to be aggressive in applying for these opportunities so that we can invest in our local infrastructure and save Jersey residents’ hard-earned dollars tax dollars,” said the Bergen County lawaker. “Much of this work will be led by our hardworking men and women of labor. They build our roads, tunnels, transit, and electric vehicle stations, lay new broadband fiber, and fought incredibly hard for the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.”
Gottheimer has appointed Jackson Olesky to oversee this effort —“a mini Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Czar for North Jersey”—to help track these dollars. Olesky is working with the congressman’s Director of Return on Investment Shayleigh Battle, who guides 5th District parties to secure grant opportunities for communities, businesses, and nonprofits so as to return as much federal dollars back to Bergen, Passaic and Sussex Counties.
“This is critical to getting shovels in the ground faster, getting more investments out the door to our communities,” Gottheimer said. “By clawing back these federal investments to Jersey, we will be able to vastly improve our infrastructure…and take a financial burden off local budgets to save taxpayers’ money.”
Simplifying Federal Process
The portal is promoted as having the grant information in one location rather than spread across dozens of hard-to-find websites as well as simplifying the process of learning about grant opportunities, giving applicants easy access to descriptions to better understand eligibility requirements.
For example, Michigan site lists all competitive grant opportunities in one location and have posted an “Infrastructure Investment Tracker” showing the values of grants awarded and the state’s overall progress on an interactive map.
“There will be resources on the page to guide towns and residents to view grants awarded to communities across Jersey—so there will be full transparency,” said Gottheimer. “Transparency is key to ensuring local governments know about the great opportunities that exist.”
Union members highlighted that these grants translate to jobs for their members throughout the district.
“Congressman Gottheimer (is) bringing back more money for the state of New Jersey than anybody has ever done in his district before,” said Bergen County Central Trades and Labor Council President Michael Schneider. “This new website that they’re creating is going to allow municipalities, nonprofits, and counties to go after the money that he gets back from Washington that will help infrastructure projects throughout New Jersey.”
Gottheimer applauded Gov. Phil Murphy and his administration for doing “an incredible job” tracking the competitive grants that the state has been applying for and believes the portal should be one replicated across New Jersey in order to make the state more affordable to live in.
“These are successful Moocher trackers that help them win grants — investments I believe should be coming back to Jersey,” said Gottheimer. “Our local governments here in North Jersey must be made aware of every grant opportunity, and compete for the ones that make sense.”