Last Sunday, CIANJ President Anthony Russo attended a brunch meeting with Gov. Murphy in Princeton at Drumthwacket along with other prominent business leaders.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Governor’s vision of growing our economy and hearing our concerns. Those in attendance included First Lady Tammy Murphy; Tim Sullivan from NJEDA; Jose Lozano from ChooseNJ; Joe Kelley, Deputy Chief of Staff; and others from the governor’s staff.
Here are the key items that were covered during this meeting:
- The Governor will be releasing his Statewide Economic Development Plan in October and it will focus on innovation & infrastructure.
- Regarding tax incentives, Sullivan will be leading efforts to reboot the Grow NJ and ERG programs. The business associations stressed the need to expand the programs to small and medium sized companies and that incentives should be easier to get and should go beyond simply tax incentives.
- The groups mentioned the possibility of creating regional economic areas where area-specific incentives can be developed and implemented like how it is done in New York.
- Murphy talked about NJ’s “sweet spot” – the residents from the ages of 30-55 and that New Jersey cannot afford to lose this group of residents. He acknowledged the state is losing 18 to 29-year-olds to other states as well as those 55 years and older. Murphy hopes to reverse the trend. For millennials, the Governor stressed the need to create high paying jobs, especially in technology and the research and development sector. Gov. Murphy was in California last week meeting with Silicon Valley executives to find out how to create these jobs in the Garden State.
- In addition to making college more affordable, Gov. Murphy said he wants to focus on vocational schools and workforce development.
- Murphy said he wants to fix NJ Transit and the state’s infrastructure. Murphy wants to encourage more private/public partnerships to help with infrastructure projects.
- The associations mentioned the need to better coordinate between local municipalities and counties on transportation and permitting issues.
- The groups also stressed the need for more transparency and input when developing policy. They urged more meetings with local business owners both big and small.
- The Governor wants to make permitting easier and faster by using technology, particularly the expansion of on-line permitting.
- The Murphy Administration wants to apply the NJDEP’s Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRPs) model to other areas of government but no specific details were given.
- Regarding minimum wage, Murphy said it will likely be a phased in approach with certain exemptions which also lines up with the Legislature’s position.
- The group discussed the need to develop a more robust marketing and communications platform where the Governor can tout the positives of moving to New Jersey.
- Regarding pension and health benefits reform, Murphy acknowledged that health benefits reform is more likely in the short term as shown in this week’s agreement with public employees. Pension reform is a longer-term priority for this administration.
Overall, Russo said it was a positive meeting. The Governor acknowledged that they won’t agree on everything but that communicating with each other is key. Murphy said he hopes to continue these meetings. Russo said CIANJ will be following up on some of these ideas at the brunch.