It’s a tradition unique to New Jersey called the Walk to Washington. Each year hundreds of the states business and political power hitters ride the rails to the nation’s capitol in a trip aimed at trading policy ideas and forging partnerships. This year they’re also taking the temperature of the new governor, who’ll make his rookie appearance as keynoter.
Business correspondent Rhonda Schaffler is aboard the Chamber train. She got the perspective on its importance to the states’ businesses. From New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, and NJTV trustee, Tom Bracken.
Schaffler: Tom, it’s great to see you on the Chamber train. This is your baby, you’ve done this for years, as have a lot of other people. What’s the primary reason that businesses want to get on board this train?
Bracken: This is the most significant networking event in New Jersey each year, maybe in the country, and I think it’s very important to have face to face contact, meet with people, not electronically. This event makes that happen. It’s the only way you can really talk to people. So, the networking aspect and seeing a very significant group of people who have a lot of issues they want to discuss, the combination of that is something that is very powerful, And it draws record crowds every year, as it does this year.
Schaffler: Tom, what’s the number one issue on the minds of businesses that people might want to get some answers to?
Bracken: I think we’re waiting to hear what the governor’s going to say in his budget address. It’s going to be his first budget. It’s going to be a significant statement on his agenda. I think we need to find out what that’s all about, so we can all dig in and either support it or try to make it better. So, I think the issue of his address tonight and gearing his preview of the budget, which we’re told what it’s going to be, will be very important to everybody.
Schaffler: What would businesses like to get out out of that budget? What would help businesses most?
Bracken: What we need in this state is growth. We need to become more affordable, we need to become more competitive, we need to do that to get the revenue to be able to afford what the embedded costs of the state are and what we want to do. So, whatever promotes affordability and growth, I think are issues that we would be very interested in.