Mali R. Schantz-Feld (Oct/Nov 09)
All industries are targeted industries in New Jersey's economic plan. Jerold L. Zaro, chief of the Governor's Office of Economic Growth, says the recent economic downturn "hit the financial sector hard, and since so many people who live in New Jersey depend on the financial service industry, of course we are anxious to see expansion in that area." But he says the Garden State practices no isolation of various industries. "We welcome any and all, with no specific targets."
Zaro says New Jersey is ahead of the national curve in emerging from the recession, largely because it was one of the first states to actively try to deal with it. In October 2008, Governor Jon Corzine enacted his Economic Assistance and Recovery Plan, centered on providing residents with food, home energy assistance and foreclosure programs. He then listened and reacted to the business community's concerns. "We found that the corporate business tax structure had some anachronistic and sort of punitive types of taxes, and since then, we have taken steps to fix that," says Zaro.
To ease the difficult regulatory and permitting environment, in May 2009, the governor signed the Licensed Site Remediation Professional Act, which "allows us to use outside engineers and environmental consultants to approve plans for environmental cleanup," says Zaro. This change has resulted in some sites getting cleaned and ready up to three years faster, facilitating quicker start times and hiring processes. The ability to hire outside sources also save money by reducing the amount of staff on the government payroll.
Other state programs include the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Program, which attracts capital investment to transit-oriented urban centers while promoting commuting alternatives to car travel, as well as expansion of Urban Enterprise Zones and the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Program, which provides incentive grants for developers' financing gaps.
Established industries in the state continue to report expansion. According to the Healthcare Institute of New Jersey, 15 of the world's top 25 pharmaceutical companies have either global or North American headquarters or significant operations in New Jersey. Bausch & Lomb is locating its 30,000-square-foot global pharmaceutical headquarters in Madison, generating 70 new full-time, high-wage jobs.
Alternative energy projects have also arrived in New Jersey. Petra Solar was awarded a contract by PSE&G that is expected to generate 100 new jobs at the firm over the coming year, part of a $200 million agreement with PSE&G to provide 200,000 SunWave intelligent photovoltaic solar units for installation on street light and utility poles. "The State of New Jersey's commitment to help grow the renewable power business has been a key factor in our decision at Petra Solar to locate within the state in the first place and to expand here," says Shihab Kuran, Ph.D., president and CEO of Petra Solar. "Recently we received the first grant under New Jersey's Clean Energy Manufacturing Fund, an initiative funded by NJ Board of Public Utilities and administered through the NJEDA as a result of the governor's vision. We plan to triple our work force over the next year to fulfill our contracts."