NJ to Business: Choose New Jersey

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New Jersey has launched a privately funded nonprofit to market the state. The $2 million effort, called Choose New Jersey, has recruited 15 local corporations to help promote and facilitate business attraction, retention and expansion. The new organization was announced at the New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co. in West Trenton this week.

Choose New Jersey is part of Gov. Chris Christie’s New Jersey Partnership for Action, a three-prong approach to revitalizing the state’s economy. Sixteen business leaders sit on its board and have made a three-year commitment to serve as ambassadors to business and industry and further business attraction and retention initiatives. That commitment includes $150,000 per company, per year, for three years, which will give Choose New Jersey a roughly $2 million annual operating budget. A search is under way for a “world class economic development expert” who will come in and put a team in place, Verizon NJ President Dennis Bone, interim chair of the organization, told Philadelphia BusinessJournal.

“When we benchmarked New Jersey to other states we found out New Jersey wasn’t in the game, was not in the game when it came to selecting and attracting businesses to the state, programs to keep businesses here. There is so much more we can do in this area and that is the mission of Choose New Jersey,” Bone said.

Under Christie’s state budget plan, all of the components of the state’s Economic Development Authority would be moved into a group that would serve as the one-stop shopping arm of the New Jersey Partnership for Action, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said. The Lieutenant Governor’s Office and Secretary of State would be the government arm of the partnership, she said.

Christie said announcements would be made in the next couple of weeks regarding companies that the state is courting. Christie said his team is regularly reaching out to CEOs, and had three calls planned that afternoon.

In addition to Bone, Choose New Jersey’s members include: Joe Colalillo, president, Wakefern Food Corp.; Don Correll, CEO and president, American Water; Robert H. Doherty, state president, Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Laurence M. Downes, chairman and CEO, New Jersey Resources; Bernard Flynn, president and CEO, NJM Insurance Group; Edward Graham, president and CEO, South Jersey Industries; Rev. M. William Howard, pastor, Bethany Baptist Church; Robert J. Iacullo, president and chief operating officer, United Water; Bob Hugin, Celgene president and COO; Ralph Izzo, chairman and CEO,  PSE&G ; Vincent Maione, president, Atlantic City Electric; William J. Marino, chairman and CEO, Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield of New Jersey; Raymond M. Pocino, vice president and eastern regional manager, Laborers International Union of North America; Kevin Rigby, vice president public affairs, Novartis; and John R. Strangefeld Jr., chairman and CEO, Prudential Financial Inc.

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