A huge thanks to Seth Goldstein, Michele Harris and Joel Payton for generously offering their time yesterday for an impromptu master mind brainstorming session. Also thanks to the always amazing Ashley Owens standing in as coordinator for Powermatch to pull it together. We met on Zoom for an hour Friday morning to bounce around ideas for the re-opening of Baysave’s activities at Money Island, NJ (moneyislandmarina.com) in rural Cumberland County NJ. These ‘pop-up’ strategy sessions are just one of the many benefits of being a PowerMatch member. Obviously recent events have rocked our world but we see opportunities as well as challenges ahead.
Seth Goldstein run’s Goldstein Media (https://goldsteinmedia.com/), an influential small business in Doylestown Pennsylvania (my old hometown). His down-to-earth practical approach to marketing has always impressed me. His advice yesterday was spot-on.
Michele Harris runs Harris Investigations (https://www.harrisinvestigations.net/). Her ambition and managerial accomplishments are renowned. At this point, I’m just waiting for her firm to announce worldwide expansion. Michele has always been a great resource for no-nonsense advice.
Joel Payton is an insurance broker (https://paytonagency.com/) who developed a niche in regional farms and rural businesses and is now building a practice in Medicare related protection. He’s helped me many times; and god knows that my insurance issues are never easy!
Ashley Owens runs Ashley Assists (https://www.ashleyassists.com/). She’s the very definition of effectiveness and executive skill. (So much so that she sometimes intimidates me).
Powermatch (https://www.powermatchonline.com/) is originally Philadelphia area based organization that is now growing nationally. Powermatch, IMO, is the best in the industry at helping small business people to develop remote relationships. I’ve developed many great relationships through my long term membership. I’m proud to call it’s founder Sara Rosenberg a long time friend and adviser and wish her the best during this sudden unplanned period of homeschooling.
Just two more mentions: Norristown super-attorney Jim Monaghan (https://norristownbankruptcylawyers.com/) and painter extraordinaire Dan Collins (http://dancollinspainting.com/), both supporters of the marina community, spoke with me at length in telephone conversations this past week offering their help and advice. I’m grateful to all these successful small business owners.
Baysave is committed to a plan for 2020 that emphasises activating diverse community interests at Money Island NJ.
GOVERNMENT– After an intense year of dealing with government, we anticipate that government will play a decreased role as we move forward. The board of directors adapted rules specifically designed to avoid the need for government integration and we do not anticipate that government support will the largest factor in future sustainability plans.
DOCKS – We will emphasize the use of the Money Island site as a port for large vessels. The demand is growing and our facilities are less expensive than other options. While smaller boats are welcome here, dry dock is more affordable than boat slips. In general, the cost of boat slips (costs imposed by government, not by us) exceeds the amount that small boat owners want to pay and exceeds the price of other docks in the region. For all boat sizes, we will emphasize long term relationships rather than single season arrangements.
CRABS – Commercial operations will remain in Delaware until New Jersey updates its laws to allow transfer of crab license and the use of online cooperative marketing. We hope to expand support of recreational crabbing with boats and rafts if public interest is sufficient.
OYSTERS – There is growing interest in recreational oyster tonging. We have no specific plans at this time
INVESTORS – Private investments are available. A significant goal is to create long term tax-free investment gains.
CHALLENGES – The largest challenge for founder Tony Novak is balancing the desire to make facilities available to as many people as possible with the need to reduce financial losses. In 2018 the losses to to abuse and vandalism were substantially more than public donations. That is obviously unsustainable. We will continue to try different approaches, technologies and operating practices to deal with these challenges.
Another long term challenge is building engagement with the community. The trend toward depopulation has been going on for decades and now we see only a few people each day. A key to sustainability is connecting with the fewer but more interested individuals who have an interest in the bayshore.
As we approach the Memorial Day traditional opening of the Money Island community’s seasonal activities, there are many different stakeholder groups operating with increased energy here. Lately we see an almost daily parade of dump trucks, construction equipment, engineers and government officials. The total redevelopment project will exceed $30 million and will take years. Yet that’s a small price to pay for the $40 million per year economic benefit of our local seafood industry, not even counting the recreational and public uses, that is expected to grow rapidly in the years ahead. We need to plan for increasingly hostile environmental conditions and rising tides that will soon put all of our land areas underwater at high tide.
Baysave’s role is to help coordinate the efforts of the various stakeholders. That’s not an easy job. Recent events highlight that cohesiveness is lacking and, in fact, some government agencies are actually sometimes working against each other.
We focus our work with the various stakeholders on addressing the problems stemming from the long history of environmental injustice. The combination of neglect, local poverty, incompetence and government corruption have taken a significant toll on our community. Still, we manage to retain the title as the second most productive seafood landing port in the state with the potential of increasing economic contribution by more than tenfold over the coming decade. In order to achieve these goals, we need leadership from the top to end the infighting among government branches. That, in turn, will inspire confidence among private entities to invest in restorative and sustainable redevelopment projects here at Money Island.
These are some of the groups currently active at Money Island:
Group 1. Community redevelopment group – Our local mayor is working with a group to bring investment funds to redevelop the front end of Money Island for some public use (“Bayshore Welcome Center”) or educational use. Baysave is working directly with one University that is planning to expand its coastal resiliency program. The mayor is working with a second University. We can offer accommodations to either one or both schools. Downe Township officials are clear that they believe that the financial survival of Downe Township may depend on favorable resolution of the Money Island issues. We encourage Mayor Campbell to continue to pursue this redevelopment option but we have not discussed any details. The mayor led the group that completed work on Stage 1 of the Money Island seawall construction two years ago. The future of Money Island quite literally depends on our ability to complete Stage 2 of the sea wall project within the next few years. Without this, we will lose use of our only roadway into the community. On Wednesday April 17 a group of high level people (two in of them in limos) arrived here to inspect the marina property. They did not, to my knowledge, look at the commercial docks.
Group 2. New Jersey Attorney General – The NJ Attorney General is working through the local Superior Courts to prosecute the individual members of the restoration coalition. There is no ‘carrot’; this is only a ‘stick’ approach. This legal action caused all of the previously approved redevelopment funding to be withdrawn and triggered the resignation of most of our Baysave board members. My initial concern was that the claims are based on faulty underlying information and misunderstandings by NJDEP staff personnel that has never been discussed in a setting that could lead to resolution. I am certain, based on conversations with the various engineers who have worked here in recent years, that some of the premises assumed by the state are incorrect. We have factual evidence of decades of errors in official documents. Unfortunately, the court process is unsuitable for local stakeholders. We cannot get fair treatment in that courtroom environment while higher powers are operating in conflict. Given the past and ongoing bad acts by some within NJDEP, it is difficult to distinguish between those who are trustworthy and the bad actors. We are advised to be patient until higher level people take control of the matter.
Group 3. Aquaculture redevelopment group – An experienced professional group meets regularly with various departments within government and outside government and plans to invite us to a meeting soon. They have a solid proposal supported by strong economic potential.
Group 4. Environmental research partnership – An environmental partnership led by The Nature Conservancy has obtained grants for ongoing research here and, right now, are the most active users of Money Island properties. They are not owners but have access to a land use agreement at no cost.
Group 5. The oystermen – Led by the Shellfish Commission, our oystermen have been able to get necessary road repairs completed and recently gained approval for channel dredging by the Army Corps of Engineers. The members have determined that our location is the best site in the state to expand oyster aquaculture but will not move forward while the state has open land use litigation based on decades’ old oversights by NJDEP. Four companies have already asked for docks for expansion after the current litigation is resolved.
Group 6. The crabbers – The crab industry is expanding and it’s no surprise that the older established crabbers do not welcome the younger new harvesters. Most of the new crabbers have temporarily moved away this season due to surprise prosecution by Fish and Wildlife over their cooperative marketing plan. The crabbers generally prefer to act quietly in their own interests and do not welcome the input of other stakeholders. That’s a challenge for Baysave but eventually we will accomplish our mutual goals.
Group 7. The recreational marina – The marina is closed for this season. A local marina owner has agreed to combine the Money Island Marina with his other existing operation and rebuild/restore the marina with appropriate permits. That agreement is ‘on hold’ waiting for resolution of current legal issues. Various agencies and private parties have expressed willingness to invest in the project after the current legal issues are fully resolved. While recreational boating was important in the past, we expect that it will be only a small part of Money Island’s future.
Tony Novak CPA will represent Baysave at the 2019 NEW JOBS PAC “The Voice of Business” Annual South Jersey Legislative Reception for the New Job Political Action Committee as a member of the NJCPA and supporter of its PAC. The annual event attracts local lawmakers to discuss local business and economic development opportunities and hindrances.
The group focuses on legislation to improve the business climate in New Jersey by supporting pro-business political candidates. Baysave is involved in revitalization of the bayshore economy and last year received funding from the NJ Community Capital THRIVE Grant to promote the local crab industry through a multi-state marketing cooperative. That effort was stymied by legal action by state government.
Baysave is focused on spreading the word about the huge growth potential of our local aquaculture industry, especially blue claw crabs and oysters at the Delaware Bay region. Advanced and technology open the door to a tenfold increase in total seafood production in the years ahead. That growth means moe infrastructure needed, more jobs created and more tax revenue for South Jersey government.
In the realm of ‘firsts’, this was one that I could not have predicted. A surprise phone call came in Friday from our government relations liaison, a PhD with a background in economic development in the office of another PhD Director of Coastal Resiliency at Rowan University.
Government relations and coastal resilience: what a team! That’s exactly the combination we need around here.
It’s not appropriate for me to get into a “he said…” situation in a public blog post like this. But is is useful to say that I am learning about new areas of public policy that were previously invisible to me. The entire topic of what government needs to do in terms of long term planning largely escapes public view. I was introduced to the topics of what is a “win” in the eyes of government, its impact on future elections and even the survival of our economy and society. Simple topics like planning for enough food to feed ourselves is really a big deal. Yet it isn’t something that makes the newspapers every day.
At the end of this call I felt more confident of the role that Money Island will play in the future as the region’s seafood landing port. Many shore towns will need to dissolve: “strategic retreat” is the popular phrase in public policy discussions. Yet some seaports will need to remain open for our survival. We will see a deeper channel for even larger oyster boats. Heavy duty commercial docks for the expanding aquaculture industry are already in the works. Loading dock, refrigerators and freezers need to be upgraded. The seawall project will be continued. We are one of the chosen few ports that will be supported; even at the massive costs required to adapt to climate change and rising tides.
In the end, our tiny rural seafood landing port will see more than a tenfold increase in its economic contribution to the region. Of course, in a long term saga like this most of the story is yet to unfold.
The redevelopment of Money Island, New Jersey, will take plenty of professional help, construction materials, equipment and lots of money. Right now we are a blank canvas, the stripped down sleepy seafood landing port that has the potential to be a regional force in sustainable aquaculture in coming decades. With removal of the former residences, and more home demolitions likely over the next couple of years, the remaining tiny marina community and working waterfront are now just positioning with the next generation of users to build a sustainable future. We are pulling support from a range of sources: private aquaculture investors, government, people with recreation/tourism business interests and local business people making in-kind contributions of time and materials. Educational institutions and nonprofits continue to play a major role in our current activities but, so far, are not involved financially.
The legal format and operational plan that works best here is to form a series of limited partnerships for each project as it develops and then offer the stakeholders the option to convert to qualified small business stock if they want to stay for the long term. This effectively creates a community capital fund by pooling the resources of different stakeholders with widely different interests. The first stage typically offers a fast up-front tax shelter. The second format offers long term tax-free capital gains. Nonprofit and government stakeholders have their own well-defined requirements and goals. We are especially excited about the opportunity to offer local small business people the opportunity to be equity stakeholders here based on a contribution of material, work or equipment.
We plan to host a series of meetings soon that will be open to the public to discuss progress, upcoming projects and opportunities to get involved. Meanwhile, contact Tony to learn more about the progress.
*Guns of course are a sensitive topic and already a reader questioned my choice of the title phrase and some may not be familiar with the origin of the pop culture phrase. If you actually consider the narcissistic context that Warren Zevon coined the famous phrase in his lyrics, it is antithetical to this use and most contemporary uses of “lawyers, guns and money”, especially by environmentalists and lawyers. I intended the word “guns” as metaphorical for “equipment” as was integral to the meaning of this post. But I do like a the brashness and tone of the current generation of the young environmentalists this week with a revolutionary spirit who do not agree to do things the docile compliant ways of the past. I’m not saying they should take up guns per se, but maybe Greenpeace-style aggressive tactics are not too radical on a longer term perspective.
Community redevelopment or industry revitalization plans historically rely heavily on tax incentives to attract investment. Our local fisheries and aquaculture industries are likely to require large commitments of investment capital over the coming decades. A government program that abates taxes or exempts gains from taxation can make a project significantly more interesting to investors. Such programs can exist at the local, county, state and federal government level. This blog post focuses on the two most prominent options available at the federal level for the revitalization of the New Jersey bayshore. This blog does not attempt to explain each option, but rather focuses on the differences between them and briefly lists how I see each of them contributing to the bayshore community’s long term revitalization.
The first federal incentive programs are the Qualified Opportunity Zone authorized as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This program is geographically restricted to a few blocks in downtown Millville and large parts of Bridgeton. Advisers see this program as most attractive to larger investors. This program could primarily help us with commercial real estate projects in those locations, especially equipment manufacturing and seafood processing, and aquaculture equipment financing for the region. This is the investment format being considered by some institutional investors. More information is available on this new web site.
The second program is Qualified Small Business Stock. This has been around longer as Section 1202 of the Internal Revenue Code but its attractiveness is strengthened by a series of recent tax changes. Investments may provide immediate tax benefits. The long term attraction is that smaller investors can achieve tax-free gains of up to $10 million (or more) by committing to the investment for at least five years. This is the business format that will be used by Nantuxent Corporation for the revitalization of commercial fishing and aquaculture at Money Island.
There are risks with either program. The first risk is that the investment may not achieve the gains expected. The investments could lose money. The second is that the investment might not be liquid at the time the investor wants to cash in. The third risk is that the expected tax result may not be achieved either because tax laws change or because the management of the investment did not meet the legal requirements of the incentive program.
I am happy to discuss how either option might fit into your investment plans.
At its December 2018 meeting, the Board of Directors of Baysave Association resolved to take additional steps toward cleanup and legalization of previously abandoned properties at the New Jersey bayshore. The resolutions include an approach to federal and state government permitting and an approach to addressing plastics in local waters. These two programs – permitting and plastics – will be the focus of Baysave’s 2019 environmental agenda.
A strategy to approach permitting on a site-by-site basis was approved to allow us to partner with, sell, or gift land to others who may have similarly aligned environmental and sustainable community redevelopment interests. It is unclear whether the NJDEP and NJ Attorney General will agree to this plan since in the past the department has taken an unusual “whole community” approach at one cleanup location and has declined pre-permit requests for addressing individual site cleanup issues. The Controller is authorized to lobby local and state government to support this more practical cleanup approach.
A plan was approved to remove waste plastics that are already in our waters as well as to reduce overall future reliance on plastics in the future. This past year the NJ Fish and Wildlife bureau and some Baysave members noticed a problem with plastic shell bags used in oyster reef restoration. We will discontinue the use of these bags on our sites and advocate for their replacement in other sites. The board resolved to commit funds and volunteer labor to remove Styrofoam floats from the water and replace the Styrofoam with more sustainable materials. This program will need additional funding. The Board authorized its Controller to seek additional grant funding for this project.
Baysave renewed its commitment to run its multi-user facilities at Money Island New Jersey provided that funding is available through future grants. The former Money Island Marina community is being converted to a nature preserve through combined action of the NJDEP Blue Acres Program and the NJ Attorney General. Public access will continue to be based on membership, however support for boating and docking activities is discontinued until and unless allowed by law.
New Jersey Community Capital Awards THRIVE Grant to Baysave Corporation for Blue Claw Crab Industry Recovery Project
“This first community financing success brings us 1/6 of the way toward keeping the Money Island working waterfront marina community viable but only about 1% of the way to long term sustainable total community redevelopment. So the plan is to use this grant to build momentum. We have a series of meetings coming up with investors about additional funding. In the end, I suspect that a crowdfunding will also be required to transform our community to thrive in the years ahead”. – Tony Novak
New Brunswick, NJ (October 25, 2018) – New Jersey Community Capital (“NJCC”) announced through its THRIVE South Jersey initiative, it has awarded a $15,000 grant to Baysave Corporation to support the Baysave Crab Industry Recovery Project. This investment will fund capital improvements and technical assistance to enhance the existing infrastructure in Money Island, New Jersey and reestablish the blue claw crab industry for independent commercial crabbers in the community.
As a bay shore community along the coast of New Jersey, Money Island boasts a robust blue claw crab industry. While the town has suffered economically from the effects of Hurricane Sandy and other climate‐related challenges, oyster and blue claw crab fishing remain an in‐demand trade. The $15,000 grant will provide the needed funding to seed the development and operation of an independent crab cooperative.
“New Jersey Community Capital plays a vital role in helping businesses gain invaluable resources to start, grow, and succeed,” says Tony Novak, Executive Director of Baysave Corporation. “This grant further enhances Baysave Corporation’s ability to support small business practices in the blue claw crab industry while growing greater economic resiliency in our community.”
“We believe that providing access to capital is essential for driving economic growth and opportunity for local residents,” says Wayne T. Meyer, President of New Jersey Community Capital. “As mission‐driven lenders, our goal is to help ensure that communities are given the resources and technical assistance to empower and fuel small business success. Through the THRIVE SJ initiative, NJCC will be able to support the projects and activities that supplement job creation and drive long‐term economic impact.”
THRIVE South Jersey works to expand local and regional capacity to generate economic growth in the targeted region of Southern New Jersey that includes Cumberland, Gloucester, Salem, and western Atlantic counties. Through a combination of strategic funding and capacity building, THRIVE South Jersey seeks to support organizations fostering community revitalization activities that generate jobs and sustain low‐income families in the four county region.
About New Jersey Community Capital
New Jersey Community Capital is a nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI) that creates thriving communities through strategic investments and technical assistance. NJCC supports the preservation and development of affordable housing and sustainable community development ventures that increase jobs, improve education, and strengthen neighborhoods. For more information, visit: www.newjerseycommunitycapital.org.
A check presentation ceremony and photograph session are planned for Tuesday October 30 at 11:00. Please RSVP if interested in attending.