BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Lawmakers Gather to Hear Small Business Owners’ Concerns

Ask small business owners and they’ll tell you it’s hardly news worth printing — that New Jersey has fallen behind in job creation.

Michael Roesch has owned the Stuyvesant Printing Press plant for three decades. While he’s glad state lawmakers are now asking his opinion on how to improve the state business environment, he says they need to do a lot more.

“The state is starting to loosen up and work very well with businesses but I think it needs to trickle down to small businesses even more so,” said Roesch.

To that end, lawmakers from both parties have decided they need to do a better job in speaking with business leaders. So Republican and Democratic assemblymen and women began a series of get-togethers to address the concerns of the business community. Assemblyman Dave Rible (R-30) organized the bipartisan event at the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey (CIANJ).

“The whole idea [of] going statewide is for us to network with business owners as a legislator, but more importantly, to listen to them,” said Rible. “I think folks have really thought that the legislature in Trenton has been a deaf ear on business owners and I think they need to know that we are being proactive [and] we want them to be successful.”

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The list of complaints from business people is lengthy. From education to the high cost of living here to energy costs.

Assemblywoman Marlene Caride (D-36) said there issues that were addressed today that need to be studied such as electricity. “That’s an area we’re gonna have to study and do everything possible to help the industry and make it a little more competitive and reduce it as much as possible so that we can keep businesses here in New Jersey,” she said.

Business leaders say, after years of anti-growth policies, the state is on the right path but that there remains too many obstacles … and too many jobs going to New York which was once unheard of.

CIANJ CEO John Galandak said more needs to be done to make New Jersey more affordable to do business in.

“Especially when a state like New York, which historically has high costs,” said Galandak. “When you start losing jobs to places like that you wonder where you went wrong and its pretty obvious to me and others that [it’s] the high cost of doing business here. It’s a wonderful state, it will never be the lowest cost of doing business state in the country but we need to reduce it. We don’t need to be the most expensive.”

The lawmakers are planning more meet and greets. The next one will be in the fall in Atlantic County. The business owners at today’s gathering say they appreciate that someone is listening. They just hope that the legislature will now act.

Reporting from Paramus, Andrew Schmertz has the full story.