PSE&G has long supported economic development in New Jersey - helping businesses expand and relocate here. The utility works with the public and private sectors to leverage the state's economic strengths. Tim Comerford is president of PSE&G's area development division.
Question: Why does PSE&G make such a significant investment in economic development?
Comerford: Public Service has been involved in economic development for over 75 years. It's actually an outgrowth of the old railroad industry in the 1800s, when business opportunities were promoted along the right-of-way for freight traffic. Utilities picked up on it in the 1900s. Our goal is to help grow the state's economy. If the economy is doing well, PSE&G does well, selling more gas and electricity, as well as other products and services. We also look at it from a micro-level. We work to attract businesses and assist them in locating and expanding in New Jersey.
Question: What does PSE&G do to promote economic development in the state?
Comerford: We have a group here dedicated to economic development, and we do a lot of promotion of the state on a local and regional basis. We target specific industry groups through direct mail and trade shows - industries such as life sciences, financial services, and warehouse logistics. On a more micro-level, PSE&G also works on neighborhood development and redevelopment. One of our current initiatives is bringing underutilized brownfields infrastructure back to market conditions.
Question: You mentioned logistics. What is the Portfields Initiative and how is PSE&G involved?
Comerford: The Portfields Initiative is a $1.7 billion project of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA). They put a financial package in place to encourage developers and others to take a closer look at redeveloping the brownfield sites in and around the Port of Elizabeth. A number of developers are now involved. Now we're ready to promote the initiative to industries that might utilize the real estate and to companies who would consider locating there. PSE&G is partnering with the EDA, the New Jersey Commerce Commission, the Port Authority, and six real estate developers on a high-impact direct marketing campaign targeting 3,500 firms that might be interested in property near the port. The campaign is a collaborative effort aimed at educating people about the 10 million square feet of developable property in and around the port. Many people, including site location consultants and major real estate corporations, don't realize that New Jersey offers space suitable for large-scale development within a few miles of the port. We're out to change that.
Question: This has important ramifications for the state's logistics industry.
Comerford: Absolutely. There is so much going on at the port - the deepening of the harbor and expansion at the various terminals. The one missing link is the warehouse distribution facilities to back that up.
Question: Why do you think New Jersey has been losing its competitiveness?
Comerford: Even though we're doing well in the life science industry, we've been growing at a smaller rate compared to the rest of the country. We need more incentives and more promotional campaigns in place to get back to the heart of what we do well, such as technology and logistics.
Question: How does the Portfields Initiative fit with Governor Corzine's Economic Growth Strategy?
Comerford: Part of the governor's vision is to create new, good-paying jobs by leveraging growth at our ports. The Portfields Initiative hits on many of the objectives he has laid out, working smarter by pooling resources and leveraging our strengths. We need to do this in other areas as well. We have to be more aggressive and visible at trade shows like BIO, which draws some 20,000 biotech industry people from around the world. A lot of business recruitment is done there and we ought to be front and center. We have to work together to tell our story if we are going to remain competitive. We've got the talent and the ambition. And we've got the momentum. Sustaining it will be key to our success.
Timothy R. Comerford, president
PSEG Area Development LLC
80 Park Plaza - 10C
Newark, NJ 07102