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Mayor Baraka Outlines 5-Year Plan To Stimulate Newark's Post-Pandemic Economic Recovery

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- The latest plan to boost the economy in the city of Newark taps into millions of dollars from President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan.

CBS2's Dave Carlin has more on how the money will be put to use.

Newark's comeback from COVID-19 means jumpstarting economic momentum felt before the pandemic.

Lifelong residents Avery Church and his stylist Raushanah Hicks said Thursday they have noticed a recent upswing.

"I see change in Newark every day," Church said.

"I know Newark is going to survive. I know we are strong," Hicks added.

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Outside the salon Kleen Kutz on Bergen Street is where Mayor Ras Baraka outlined a multi-year plan, with $8.8 million for the first year.

Mostly using federal funds, Newark fast tracks and builds more commercial and residential space.

"We have a five-year affordable housing goal," Baraka said.

The owners of Kleen Kutz and Talk 'n Fix Wireless were together at the podium. Both said they are grateful for grants, tech support and city services that helped them during the pandemic.

"We would like to thank the city of Newark for giving us a grant that was able to keep our employees, keep our lights, and keep our inventory going," Talk 'n Fix's Ronaldo Rodriguez said.

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The plan expands those things in the city, where unemployment rose to 19% at the height of the pandemic and still stands at at 10.7%.

"We came together," Kleen Kutz owner Keer Oliphant said. "Because, together is the only way we can survive."

Baraka said a longer-term goal is getting more affordable and greater access to broadband.

"The expansion of fiber and broadband, that's also a part of this as well," Baraka said. "We see how serious it is based on all of the ... when schools were closed and the necessity for kids to be able to get online."

He said he would like to see Newark offer free internet access to all small businesses, and expand fiber to all five wards in the city.

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