BUSINESS & ECONOMY

How key legislative issues could shape up for South Jersey businesses

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

Veteran lawmaker Assemblyman John Burzichelli is watching the vote counting in Trenton over legal marijuana like many others around the state.

“There are enough votes, barely enough votes in the Assembly to move it Monday. And I would tell you it’s a fragile 41, 42,43 range, that kind of range, and I think there’s a pathway in the Senate to get to 21,” said Burzichelli.

As New Jersey gets closer to legalizing recreational marijuana, a panel at the annual “Sound Off for South Jersey” conference, sponsored by the Southern New Jersey Development Council, centered on how businesses should prepare for legal marijuana in the event it becomes law.

Burzichelli says legalization presents opportunities for non-marijuana businesses across the state, who will be able to attract tourists from neighboring states.

“A place like Atlantic City, where there’s hotel rooms and accommodation, this as a component of tourism, as has been demonstrated in Colorado, is real,” Burzichelli said.

The discussions Friday were to inform the business community about the two major topics that may impact their bottom line. The second conversation is on tax incentives.

Economic Development Authority CEO Tim Sullivan was on hand to promote Gov. Phil Murphy’s tax incentive reform plan.

“It would have a business focused tax credit, a real estate developer focused tax credit, brownfields tax credit, a historic tax credit and a program that will really supercharge New Jersey’s venture capital climate,” Sullivan said.

That’s the Innovation Evergreen Fund, a plan to lure venture capital to the state, which he says has dropped from fifth to 15th in the last decade in terms of the amount of venture capital it’s attracted.

“And that broader strategy is to recapture our leadership in the innovation economy,” he said.

Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald supports the existing programs and points to its effects on Camden to see their potential.

“In Camden, studying those numbers around programs like Subaru of America, New Jersey American Water, the Philadelphia 76ers and their investment into the city and the growth, we’ve seen that kind of return on investment,” Greenwald said.

But the Murphy administration plan looks to spread the wealth among smaller, tech-driven companies, stressing entrepreneurship and de-emphasizing the big corporate incentives that have dominated the Camden revival.

Food for thought in a region that has benefited from the Camden model.