The nation climbed out of the great recession but New Jersey’s been left out of the economic growth spurt. In the last two months the state lost more than 26,000 jobs. Even as the jobless rate fell. To keep jobs here and create new jobs, the Christie Administration has spent $6 billion — a billion this year alone in tax breaks to lure companies here or keep them here. Critics say a good deal for business might be a bad break for taxpayers. Michelle Siekerka is president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. She told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams the state is getting a return on investment.
“We absolutely are getting a return on our investment and let’s just put this into context, we haven’t yet spent the $6 billion,” said Siekerka. “It’s set aside for the incentives programs. Actually to date we’ve spent $64 million and if you want to talk about return on investment — that equates to $734 million in private investment in the state of New Jersey. That is 1,900 new permanent jobs in the state of New Jersey, about 3,000 construction jobs in the state of New Jersey. I would say that’s return on investment.”
When asked about how contracts are written in a way that incentivizes and benefit Siekerka said that companies have to earn the incentive dollars and that they have to create jobs.
Siekerka said under the new economic opportunity act the incentives programs reach down to small businesses and that it is something new and exciting.
“We haven’t seen this before. In some of the urban growth zones you only have to create eight new jobs in order to be eligible for an incentives program,” she said.
For the month of July, New Jersey lost about 26,100 jobs, while the unemployment rate is below six percent. According to Siekerka, the state is climbing out slowly from high unemployment numbers. She said the state has had a tough time over the past few years. She said the state is still trying to recover from Sandy and that tourism in the state has not been what many expected it to be following Sandy. She also said there was a decline in hospitality.
Meanwhile David Pringle of NJ Clean Water Action said that green investment and green building is good for the economy. When asked if she agrees, Siekerka said, “I do agree. I believe in sustainable growth, which means we incorporate green all across what we do in the state of New Jersey. I think we get return on investment when we think sustainable growth.”