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TRENTON-The New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s board of directors has hired construction managers for the northern and southern parts of the Garden State, and has approved two new procedures that address key issues, all related to its massive school construction and financing agenda. The effort, which involves a number of private sector building contractors, entails a total of $12 billion in construction work, with EDA raising $8.6 billion of that total. Local districts will provide the rest.

To begin with, the two contracting firms picked as regional construction managers will each oversee about $50 million worth of projects in so-called Abbott districts, 30 school districts in which the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered the state to equalize opportunity with wealthier districts. For South Jersey, EDA has awarded the management contract to Gilbane Construction Co., whose Lawrenceville, NJ office will handle the project.

For North Jersey, meanwhile, EDA’s board has picked Bovis Lend Lease, whose regional office is located in New York City. Altogether, seven construction firms made a bid for the South Jersey assignment, while eight firms applied for North Jersey.

As far as the procedural changes, the first allows the EDA to secure sites for temporary classroom units and lease them to Abbott school districts. The second establishes conditions under which the EDA can enter into grant agreements for facilities valued at $500,000 or less.

“We’re continuing to move ahead in laying the groundwork for implementing our responsibilities under the Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act,” according to NJEDA executive director Caren Franzini. “We’ve made progress in the last year on many fronts to create a school financing and construction program.”

A little outside of its usual jurisdiction of assisting commercial and industrial projects that create jobs in the state, the school construction and financing program is a far-reaching effort that involves key players in the development and construction industry. The tie-in lies in the NJ EDA’s mission to broaden and strengthen the state’s economic base through business expansion and attraction, with educational facilities being one of the key components.

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