Critic of Grow New Jersey Says Program Doesn’t Create Jobs

When Gov. Chris Christie defended his Grow New Jersey program recently, he specifically called out former president of New Jersey Policy Perspective Deborah Howlett, saying she should blame the Corzine administration for problems with job programs. Howlett sat down with NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider to discuss her criticism of the program Grow New Jersey.

Howlett said Grow New Jersey is an offshoot of a program that Gov. Jon Corzine created and that Democrats in the legislature have amped up in the last few years. But she said the grant money offered to large corporations won’t create jobs.

“The $40 million for Lockheed Martin doesn’t create a single job,” she said. “The $32 million to bring the Dress Barn corporate headquarters across the border from Suffern to Mahwah doesn’t create a single job.”

Howlett explained that Lockheed Martin and Dress Barn would retain the jobs they have, simply moving the workers to the state. “Wouldn’t it be better to bring new jobs in instead of shifting jobs around or stealing them from the region? It would make the economy stronger,” she said.

She also questioned if it’s the best use of tax money. “They funded four programs with new Grow New Jersey grants — $115 million. Out of that they promised to create grow, retain, steal, whatever, 2,000 jobs,” Howlett said. “That’s an expensive 2,000 jobs.”

She added that large corporations are reaping the benefits rather than small business owners, which can create more jobs for New Jerseyans.

“What you want to do is spend taxpayer money on programs that actually do public good. You should not be giving tax money to corporations on the theory that they’re going to create jobs when those jobs are going to exist anyway and this has just become a giant chess game of where exactly they’re located,” Howlett said. “Does it matter if they’re in Suffern or Mahwah? Not to the people who live in that vicinity. What they want are real jobs, good jobs, jobs that pay them a good living and decent benefits.”


Related: Is Grow New Jersey Program Worth the Tax Incentives?