Yes, New Jersey is waking up!


In answer to my July post:  Yes, I think NJ is Waking up!

Today I attended a Jobs for Jersey forum at Montclair State.  My company was invited by the Manufacturing Network of NJBIA to which we belong.

There was a panel of dignitaries, which included 3 past governors, Brendan Byrne, Donald DiFrancesco, and Jim McGreevey.  Others on the panel: Dennis Bone (Pres of Verizon), Ralph LaRossa (Pres of PSE&G), and other academics and small business owners.  The panel discussion was intended to be a first step in providing solutions to NJ’s employment challenges.  Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno made the Closing Remarks.

A lot of good points were made covering many areas.  I think everyone agreed that anything government can do to streamline bureaucracy is a step in the right direction.  The “normal cost of doing business” in NJ is high and part of this is related to regulation delay.  This creates investment postponement or delay.

Some questions from the audience seemed to call for more financial support from the state for programs such as convention centers or sustainability programs.  In today’s climate, this is not realistic.  Better for you to build a business case and go forward on the merits. Someone on the panel pointed out that the current NJ regulations favor green, wind, and solar projects, and that it would be difficult to find anther state where the incentives are better. Another mentioned that many of the state-sponsored projects such as Liberty Science Center, while interesting and appealing, have not paid for themselves and continue to require state subsidies.

Governor Christie has decided not to move forward on the new tunnel project, mainly because any cost overruns would be born by the state.  And which major government project has not had significant cost overruns?  Now if they were using us for Project Management support, that would be different!  If we allow bridge and tunnels rates to rise during the peak hours, then most people would shift to off-peak hours.  Right now there are roughly 1.5 hour windows around each rush hour where the crossings are at capacity.  Go into the city in the middle of the day or the middle of the night and it is a breeze.  We can force this kind of shift at almost no cost, thus increasing total daytime usage significantly.  Yes, people don’t want the pain of paying to go outside normal business hours.  No pain, no gain, right? How about saving some/most of that increased revenue so any new capital project pays for itself beforehand?  A Port Authority Lay-Away plan!

But I digress.

Much like Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s speech I wrote about in July, she came on today again with excitement and positive.  She now has 10 months in office so she spoke on the changes in place already. One program I like which addresses the main issue above is the Red Tape Review Commission which has already started to reduce the time to get permits reviewed.  Note that they are not guaranteeing to approve permits, only to complete the permit review process a lot faster.  Some cases will be reviewed in 10% of the time it currently takes!  And it will cost the state less!  Now THAT’s progress!  What else are they doing?  You can see for yourself at NJ’s Priorities. Ms. Guadagno was a great speaker.

All in all a good session.  I came away feeling that NJ is waking up and realizing that they need thriving businesses in order to create jobs.  And now they are doing some good things to get them.

Tom Smith
Managing Director
Focused Solutions Group