Men and women run for elected office for a variety of reasons. While some are motivated by a singular issue that is critical to them, once elected they are obliged to accept the responsibility of working with one another on a wide range of issues that improve the quality of life for their constituents.
This is especially true of statewide office holders. Among the core issues in New Jersey is the responsibility to enhance our state’s business climate to make it more attractive to companies who can choose where they have facilities and employees.
Essentially that means creating a climate in which there is a reasonable expectation that a business will be able to earn a profit, and ultimately, “choose New Jersey.” Over the last four years, a serious focus has been placed on that goal and significant progress has been made.
There is always an underlying struggle between political parties to advance their vision of how to make the world a better place. Make no mistake, elections do have consequences, and the party that is in the majority has considerable sway over the agenda and the range of issues that are introduced and ultimately voted upon.
Too often, improving the state’s business climate gets lost, as does the need to create new jobs. The proof is undeniable. Rutgers economist Joseph Seneca has reported that from 2001 to 2010, New Jersey experienced a net loss of 156,100 private sector jobs. But New Jersey doesn’t have to accept this troubling legacy.
In recent years, we have witnessed a complete “aboutface” with New Jersey adding 143,000 private sector jobs for the period February 2010 to August 2013. People are once again “choosing New Jersey.” There are myriad examples, large and small, of businesses either starting or expanding their business here. In addition, this year the NFL selected New Jersey as the site of Super Bowl XLVIII (see page 10).
Members of both parties can take credit for the progress that has occurred in New Jersey over the last four years, but much more needs to be done. Our elected leaders—both the Christie administration and the Democrat-controlled legislature—need to refocus on governing and limit the distractions of partisan politics. With a mixed government, Democrats and Republicans must cooperate and be willing to engage one another on specific issues, if anything positive is going to take place.
Broadly, fewer taxes and fees, less regulation and policies that support free enterprise are the ticket to bipartisan success. Small businesses create the majority of new jobs, and helping this sector thrive is a key piece of the equation that will set New Jersey on the right course for its financial future.
The challenge is clear: if New Jersey won’t do what’s necessary to attract new businesses and keep the companies that are already located here, other states will. From incentives to outreach from agencies such as the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, every step in the right direction—each business-friendly decision—will pay off in the form of jobs and ratables for the state’s municipalities.
The business community is an economic engine, but it is also a vital source of philanthropy. That’s why this year’s Chairman’s Reception on March 6, 2014 (see page 86) honors “companies that care.” The good works of 33 companies are showcased in this issue and will be recognized at the event for making important contributions to people in need, worthy charitable causes and communities still recovering from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy.
In his book Liar’s Poker, author Michael Lewis writes that, “in America, the greedy don’t get what they deserve. They get rich.” But there is another side to the pursuit of wealth that allows successful companies and entrepreneurs to give back to the communities where they do business. In COMMERCE, we celebrate the generosity of New Jersey’s businesses, “because caring works.”