Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey

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CIANJ President's Message

"Painting a New Picture of New Jersey"



by John Galandak, April 2015 COMMERCE Magazine Column

ACTOR/COMEDIAN STEVE MARTIN ONCE said that “a painting is a permanent conversation that speaks to us each time we look at it.” Unfortunately, on the canvas that shows the Garden State, there are images that for years have sent the wrong signals to CEOs, as too many companies have chosen to leave New Jersey or expand elsewhere. Recognizing the need for change, New Jersey elected Governor Chris Christie in 2009 with his clear vision for bi-partisan, pro-business initiatives and policies. His new portrait of New Jersey has both attracted and retained many companies, but these efforts remain a work in progress. Businesses need to be actively engaged, through CIANJ and on their own, in advocating the following:

Reduce the Regulatory Burden on Businesses. Too often, regulations unnecessarily siphon away resources and hinder economic growth and opportunities. We must embrace the work of the Red Tape Review Commission—chaired by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, and on which I am proud to serve as a representative of the business community—as one of the most effective tools we have for reducing the regulatory burden on businesses.

Eliminate New Jersey’s Estate and Inheritance Taxes. New Jersey and Maryland are the only two states to impose both an estate and inheritance tax, and New Jersey’s taxes are triggered at a threshold of estates of $675,000 in value. The federal threshold is $5 million and, in some circumstances, $10 million. Because of this tax, many New Jersey residents—including CEOs who take their companies, jobs and philanthropy with them when they leave—have moved out of state to locations such as Florida, which does not impose this tax burden. New Jersey should eliminate these taxes outright since they only generate 2 percent of state revenues.

Reform the State’s Pension and Benefits System. Governor Christie and the New Jersey State Legislature set a national example when they worked collaboratively on public employee pension and health reforms in 2011, but more needs to be done. CIANJ hopes New Jersey can build on the success of this legislation, and work to make the recommendations that Governor Christie referenced in his 2015 budget address a reality. The status quo cannot be maintained. Re-engineering the pension system to be more in line with private sector 401(k) plans and amending the benefits plan to adopt medical coverage that is comparable to what businesses are offering their employees are going to be necessary compromises to save the system from its inevitable self-destruction.

Adopt Meaningful Property Tax Reforms. New Jersey’s reputation as a state with high property taxes negatively impacts its attractiveness to new investments. When choosing where to locate a new business, cost of living for employees is often a factor because it affects the wages that must be offered. CIANJ supports the consolidation of services and the elimination of exemptions which allow municipalities to exceed the 2 percent cap on annual property tax increases that was instituted by the legislature at the urging of Governor Christie.

Fix the State’s Transportation Trust Fund. New Jersey’s transportation network is one of our greatest strengths, as it attracts businesses to New Jersey. Our citizens should constitutionally dedicate the monies earmarked for the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) for road improvements and maintenance projects to prevent the past practice of raiding the fund to fill budget gaps. The TTF must be maintained, but while increasing New Jersey’s gas tax may seem like the simple answer, it will add to the cost of doing business here, which is counterproductive to the goal of attracting and keeping businesses.

As members of the New Jersey business community, we must keep these issues top-of-mind for our elected officials. Let’s work together by taking an active role in shaping a brighter, more business-friendly future for the Garden State.

To view the complete April issue of COMMERCE Magazine, click here.

Legislative One-on-One Dinner

Lively discussion moderated by television anchor Steve Adubato, Jr.

May 26th, 20155:30 pm | Register Now

Business 2 Business Council

Through the Business to Business Council, CIANJ is seeking to provide opportunities for small business owners and entrepreneurs to gain the contacts, knowledge, and information necessary to grow their businesses profitably. The B2B Council events will connect them to opportunities across New Jersey’s diverse business landscape.

Business Impact Group (BIG)

BIG has joined CIANJ and will be working with the Small Business Council to bring value to the small business sector within CIANJ and the New Jersey Small business community. BIG operates as a closed group within CIANJ similar to the CEO Roundtable providing an opportunity for its members to gain insights in a peer-to-peer atmosphere.

CEO Roundtable

The CEO Roundtable provides a forum for chief executive officers or business owners to seek advice and share experiences. Participants freely discuss issues they confront daily, such as compensations, financing, dealing with family members, relocations, sale of a business and many of the topics.

Environmental Business Council

Since its inception, the EBC’s mission has been to recognize the important economic role the environmental industry plays within the state, to demonstrate that environmental issues are also business issues, and to teach the business and regulatory communities that environmental responsibility and economic growth are fundamentally related

Financial Decision Makers Roundtable

CIANJ’s Financial Decision Makers Roundtable is intended for senior executives in key financial positions within their firms, as well as CIANJ members and invited guests. The purpose of this roundtable is to share critical information related to financial decision making and to allow attendees to develop professional relationships with each other. CPE credits are offered.

Generation Now: A Young Professionals Or

Generation Now is a group of young professionals in alliance with one another for the purpose of education, networking and peer-to-peer exchange leading to personal and professional growth.

Healthcare Roundtable

CIANJ’s Healthcare Roundtable is a forum for professionals who work within a spectrum of related disciplines to interact with one another by discussing critical issues that affect healthcare, as well as to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and develop relationships that enhance business

Human Resources Council

CIANJ’s Human Resource Roundtable is intended to advocate HR awareness by providing information and resources in various HR disciplines. It educates those responsible for HR in their organizations by sharing knowledge to solve common challenges. As an HRCI Approved Provider, attendees can earn continuing education credits toward PHR, SPHR, and GPHR

Legislative Roundtable

The mission of the Legislative Roundtable is to provide a forum where business executives can meet with state and federal lawmakers to discuss the latest issues affecting commerce.

Manufacturing Roundtable

The Manufacturing Roundtable is intended to be a forum for professionals who work in complimentary disciplines to discuss critical issues that affect manufacturing, facilitate the exchange of knowledge, and to develop relationships that enhance business

Marketing Roundtable

Without a savvy marketing strategy, any product or service is doomed to failure. Industry leaders guide this roundtable as it helps businesses promote their brand, harness social media, and determine the best ways to identify new customers and clients

Real Property Roundtable

CIANJ’s Real Property Roundtable is intended to be a forum for professionals who work in complementary disciplines to discuss critical issues that affect real property, facilitate the exchange of knowledge, and to develop relationships that enhance business

Technology For Business Roundtable

The Technology For Business Roundtable is intended to be a forum for professionals who work in complementary disciplines to discuss critical issues that affect technology, facilitate the exchange of knowledge, and to develop relationships that enhance business.

Recent News

  • Member News - Valley National Bank

    Valley National Bank Participates in Paterson Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build Week.  On May 8th, Dianne Grenz, Executive Vice President, Director of Sales, Shareholder and Public Relations, Patricia Davino, Wayne Territory Sales Manager, and Houry Karaguezian, Ridgewood Territory Sales Manager, participated in the Paterson Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build Week. Women Build is Habitat’s volunteer program for women who want to learn construction skills and make a difference by building homes and communities.  Women Build projects are regularly held by Habitat affiliates across the United States, and by Habitat organizations around the world. Women at these builds have furthered Habitat’s home-building mission by helping to construct more than 1,900 houses.  Ms. Grenz, Ms. Davino and Ms. Karaguezian met at a construction site in Paterson, New Jersey and spent the day performing a number of important construction tasks to help build a single-family home for a well-deserving family.  “Valley National Bank strives to create a positive and meaningful impact in the local community and that is why we are proud to support the Paterson Habitat for Humanity,” commented Ms. Grenz.  “Women Build was a great experience for us as we learned a lot about the construction process and, more importantly, we were able to help a family realize their dream of home ownership.”

  • Member News - Berkeley College

    For the second consecutive year, Berkeley College has been ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans by S. News & World Report. Berkeley College was one of 10 colleges in New York and one of two in New Jersey to receive the distinction.  “When veterans return to higher education, they can experience unique challenges during their transition out of the military and into civilian life,” said Brian Kelly, Editor and Chief Content Officer at U.S. News & World Report, in a press release. “The Best Online Programs for Veterans are designed to help veterans balance applying, paying for and completing a degree, on top of their work and family commitments.” According to U.S. News & World Report, “to ensure academic quality, all schools included in these rankings first have to be ranked among the top 75 percent of schools in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 Best Online Programsrankings, which were published in January 2015.” Berkeley College is number 78 among 737 online degree programs reviewed. 

  • Member News - Inserra Supermarkets

    The new ShopRite of Wallington opened its doors, welcoming its first customers earlier this week. The modern, 60,000-square-foot grocery store is the 22nd store in the respected, family-owned Inserra Supermarkets chain. It is located in the Wallington Plaza Shopping Center at 375 Paterson Avenue in Wallington. To mark the grand opening, local dignitaries, including the Mayor of Wallington Walter Wargacki, joined the Inserra family and Donald Nuckel, owner of Donald Nuckel & Company, at both the ribbon-cutting ceremony and preview party. During the morning celebration, the Very Rev. Canon Felix Marciniak and Rev. Steven D’Andrea of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Wallington blessed the store. The festive preview party, which drew more than 400 guests, showcased the restaurant-quality food offerings the store will have available to its customers.

  • Member News- HackensackUMC

    HackensackUMC is pleased to announce it is ranked as one of only five highest-performing hospitals in the nation and the only one in the New York metropolitan area ranking in two S. News & World Report lists—ranking among the top 30 hospitals in its Best Hospitals list, and the top 34 “High Performing” hospitals in its inaugural “Best Hospitals for Common Care."  “We are pleased to be one of a select group of hospitals to offer the highest-quality complete care to our patients – in both specialty and common care. A heartfelt thank you to our physicians, nurses and the entire healthcare team for their continued dedication to our patients and their loved ones,” said Robert C. Garrett, president and chief executive officer of Hackensack University Health Network. “What an honor it is to receive this recognition from such a prestigious healthcare ratings agency as U.S. News & World Report.” The categories for this new award include uncomplicated coronary artery bypass graft surgery, total hip replacement, total knee replacement, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). U.S. News & World Report analyzed data from nearly 5,000 medical centers to rank the best hospitals for common care. Hospitals were ranked primarily on outcome measures including mortality, readmissions, healthcare-associated infections and other widely used measures of hospital quality to determine the outcome.

  • Panasonic's CEO Meets With CIANJ Members

    In an intimate setting at the Upper Montclair Country Club earlier this week, Joseph Taylor, Chairman and CEO of Panasonic Corporation North America, met with CIANJ business leaders to discuss new products, innovations and why the company chose to remain in New Jersey two years ago.  The discussion was part of CIANJ’s Financial Decision Makers Roundtable meeting.   A motivating factor in moving the company’s headquarters from Secaucus to Newark was the proximity to mass transit.  Nearly half of the company’s workforce commutes via mass transit which aligns with Panasonic’s vision of environmental awareness and sustainability.  Mr. Taylor also talked about the importance tax incentives played in the decision to remain in New Jersey.