In May, rental car giant Hertz announced it was moving its corporate headquarters, as well as 550 jobs, from Park Ridge, N.J., to the Gulf Coast of Florida. The company cited several reasons for its relocation, chief among them the $85 million in tax incentives that Florida is offering.
When a company packs up and leaves - particularly one that is a staple of the community for decades - it impacts not just the local and state economies, but the very livelihood of the men and women who depend on these stable jobs to support their families. The domino effect lingers long after these companies have settled comfortably elsewhere.
In recent years, a number of towns in New Jersey have faced a similarly devastating scenario:
Pharmaceutical mainstay Roche rocked North Jersey last year with the decision to shutter its Nutley campus after nearly 80 years, taking with it roughly 1,000 jobs.
Bordentown City is struggling to come to terms with Ocean Spray's decision to move to Pennsylvania after 60 years, taking with it 250 jobs and hundreds of thousands of dollars in local tax revenue.
And in January, Estée Lauder announced it was closing its packaging plant in Bergen County and moving roughly 100 jobs to Long Island.
These are just some of the grim consequences of today's insecure economic climate, particularly in the early postrecession stages when states are jockeying for jobs as if their lives depended on it - because they do.
It's time to stop the bleeding before the wound is too large to heal.
It is with these concerns in mind that we labored intensively for more than a year to enact the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, a broad legislative measure that will revamp and streamline the state's economic-development tax-incentive programs, shifting the focus squarely to where it is needed: creating employment opportunities.
The new law (Assembly Bill 3680) merges five state tax-incentive programs into two expanded and enhanced programs, with one focused on job creation and the other on economic development.
The Grow New Jersey Assistance Program will serve as the state's premiere business-attraction and job-retention incentive, and the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant Program will encourage businesses to embark on redevelopment projects.
Despite the divergent lure of these programs, they share the same end goal: to incentivize job creation and economic growth in a way that will essentially pay for itself rather than serve as a burden on taxpayers.
Some companies - faced with the grim choice between being forced to leave our state and scaling back their operations - were clamoring for the new legislation even while it was still being finalized. In the few short weeks since the law was enacted, it already appears to be paying dividends, particularly in South Jersey.
A large management company located in Mount Laurel has contacted my office and expressed a desire to use these programs to expand into Moorestown and create new jobs.
Rather than heading for the door, businesses are now clamoring to stay. At first glance, the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act is doing what it was intended to do: incentivize job creation and retain high-paying jobs at risk of leaving our state. Let's hope this will foretell the sign of a new trend.