New Jersey businesses – both large and small – are facing daunting obstacles during the current economic climate that has slowed down, and in many cases stopped their ability to create jobs and grow. State government can’t be one of the hurdles impeding New Jersey’s job creators. For far too long, many employers have seen State government as an additional obstacle rather than a partner. It is no secret that our status as the highest-taxed citizens in the United States has forced job creators and families out of New Jersey and to other states. Our losses to states like Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York, has been their gain. The Forbes statistics are well known – 49th for business costs; 42nd in economic “competitiveness; 47th in regulatory environment; and 44th in economic climate.
New Jersey has such a rich history of innovation, industry, and entrepreneurship and now we are at an economic crossroads. This crossroads offers on one path a state that can attract, retain, and grow business or on the other path, a well worn path of burdensome red tape regulation, high taxes, and anti-growth policies. We know too well the later path, which has led to economic malaise. That path has been the course our State has been on for too long. But as Governor Christie noted in his FY2011 budget address, “The reforms we make today…can make possible a new kind of leadership. Where New Jersey is number one in new business creation…where New Jersey is number one in job growth…where New Jersey is number one in educational achievement. And where we lead once again in providing opportunity for our citizens and pride in what we can accomplish together.”
Today, the reforms the Governor has proposed are taking shape in the New Jersey Partnership for Action. The Partnership is the centerpiece of our Administration’s economic development agenda. It will serve as the starting point for all our initiatives, policies and efforts related to growing New Jersey’s economy and creating quality, sustainable jobs. Through three interconnected and highly focused organizational elements, the New Jersey Partnership for Action will include Choose New Jersey, the Economic Development Agency, and Government Process Solutions. New Jersey job creators will now have a partner in Trenton, working to attract new businesses and helping existing businesses thrive. By focusing on relationship building and person-to-person outreach, promoting the State’s incentives and resources, developing pro-growth policies, and assisting businesses in navigating state government programs and regulations, I believe we will create a climate that welcomes new jobs and businesses.
Choose New Jersey will be the privately-funded nonprofit that will help position the Garden State as a world-class leader in the competitive global market, creating a prosperous and vibrant economy for the State and its citizens by effectively leveraging our diverse available resource. Led by a CEO, it will promote New Jersey to existing and new businesses, encourage economic growth and opportunity, and spearhead promotional activities to aggressively market New Jersey as a business destination.
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The Economic Development Agency (EDA) will continue to be the financing component for New Jersey job growth – overseeing many of our programs that support the business community. Through financial programs that provide access to capital in partnership with banks throughout New Jersey. EDA will organizes incentive programs aimed at attracting new business and supporting the retention of existing employers. The EDA will act as the State’s “bank for business” by providing support to the Partnership for Action with the State’s financing and incentive resources to leverage New Jersey’s strategic advantages.
Government Process Solutions will report directly to my office and consist of a team of business liaison representatives who will bring a customer service approach to coordination and navigation across State and municipal agencies for businesses looking to remain, expand or locate in New Jersey.
New Jersey has long been a place for innovators and entrepreneurs. From light bulbs to telecommunication to medicines to start-ups, the Garden State has played key roles in advancing innovation. We can take great pride in our highly skilled workforce, the top rated research institutions and universities housed here, and the diverse natural resources that stretch across the State. All of those assets, coupled with our new approach to how we treat business and job creators, will ensure that New Jersey once again is a home for growth.
Kim Guadagno is Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey