A Troubling Sign For New Jersey’s Economic Future

By Michael M. Shapiro

The New Jersey Policy Research Organization, the think tank of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA), recently released a study of New Jersey’s business climate. The study included a telephone poll of 249 business leaders as well as interviews of 29 New Jersey and out-of-state business and government leaders. It also provided 37 policy recommendations for New Jersey based on other states’ best practices. The results of the study are a troubling sign for New Jersey’s economic future.

When asked what is most likely to prevent a company from reaching its goals, 21% of study respondents said the affordability of living in New Jersey, while 20% said New Jersey’s unfavorable tax structure, and 19% said the availability of a skilled workforce. Regarding the most negative impact on New Jersey’s companies, 26% of study respondents cited the state’s tax policy while 16% said New Jersey’s healthcare policy most negatively impacts the state’s business community. Most troubling for New Jersey’s economy, 42% of study respondents said that if the state government’s policies remain the same, the business climate will deteriorate while only 26% said that the climate will improve.

Chief among the 37 policy recommendations, as previously mentioned, is the development of a quick and efficient system for business permits and licensing, including the creation of improved online access and usability. In addition, the study recommends that the state must fund academic research and development and create stronger partnerships between the state’s universities and the business community. Controlling costs and improving the quality of the state’s healthcare plans are also recommended.

Given the current state of the national and state economy, it is more important than ever to make sure New Jersey retains its businesses and ideally recruits additional firms to locate in the Garden State. If the study by the New Jersey Policy Research Organization is any guide, the business climate in New Jersey is in trouble and may be headed for darker days ahead.

Hopefully, Governor Corzine and the Legislature will carefully read the study and its recommendations. They should engage in constructive and thoughtful debate regarding the suggested recommendations and develop a short and long term plan to retain the businesses that are already in New Jersey and to recruit new ones to the Garden State. Any such plan should include the adoption of a majority of the 37 recommendations from the study.

Should our elected leaders fail to address the distressing business climate in our state, New Jersey will lose many of the businesses it currently has and will fail to recruit additional companies to move to the Garden State. As a result, our state’s economy will spiral downward, causing a deleterious impact on each and every resident of New Jersey.

You can read the full study at: http://www.njprofoundation.org/pages/respa.htm

Michael M. Shapiro, founder of ShapTalk.com, is an attorney who resides in New Providence. He currently serves as the editor of The Alternative Press, www.thealternativepress.com. Contact Mike at mike@shaptalk.com

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