PISCATAWAY—Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno addressed the Middlesex County business community Tuesday, touting progress made toward reducing the state’s unemployment numbers, as well as cutting red tape for small businesses.
Guadagno spoke at the Rutgers University Visitor Center as part of an ongoing economic development series hosted by the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“We have a story to tell when it comes to small business development,” Guadagno said. “If we can cut taxes, make it affordable to live here, cut the red tape, residents and businesses will feel welcome again.”
Guadagno joined Rutgers University Athletic Director Julie Hermann in coupling Central Jersey’s robust economic outlook with a University-led campaign to promote and market its athletic teams’ move to the Big Ten conference. Earlier this month, in a report submitted to the Rutgers Board of Governors, the University announced that it expects to draw an additional $200 million over 12 years from the move.
Rutgers is scheduled to move into the Big Ten on July 1, 2014.
Joining the conference, which includes Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State and Northwestern, means that Rutgers can benefit from the exposure provided by the Big Ten. It can also translate into an economic windfall in Middlesex County, according to Hermann.
“Your economy is our economy,” Hermann said. “The Big Ten audience travels, so when they come here, they’re going to have a big effect on our local businesses.”
Hermann pointed to an economic impact study she was involved with as athletic director at the University of Louisville. That study forecast projected a windfall of $250 million per year to the local economy there.
The potential economic benefit of Rutgers’ Big Ten involvement would complement the county’s already vibrant and diverse workforce, according to Chamber President Alex Hollywood. “Our top 20 employers employ nearly 50,000 people and we had the second-highest growth in tourism in 2012,” she said. “The ingredients for economic strength are here, and we look forward some very good years ahead of us.”
Dan Henrickson, Chairman of the Middlesex Chamber Board of Directors and station manager of Magic 98.3/WCTC 1450 Greater Media NJ, said working closely with business stakeholders throughout the county, including economic anchors like Rutgers, help to brighten the economic outlook throughout Central Jersey.
“We always talk about the value of belonging to a business network like the one the Middlesex Chamber provides, and whether you’re large, small or midsize, it’s important to become engrained and integrated in the this Chamber—it’s a path to success,” he said.
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