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SNAPSHOTS: 60 Seconds…with Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, State of New Jersey

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, State of New Jersey

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, State of New Jersey

By the Business Facilities Staff
From the March/April 2013 issue 

BF: Amazon has announced it will build a $200-million fulfillment center in Robbinsville, the first phase of a major investment in NJ. Do you anticipate that central New Jersey will be a major logistics hub?
KG: Yes, I believe central New Jersey and the state as a whole will continue to develop as a major logistics hub. With more than 38,000 miles of interstates and highways, nearly 1,000 miles of rail freight lines and the nation’s third largest seaport—not to mention access to 130 million consumers within a day’s drive—New Jersey is already a leader in transportation and logistics. Central New Jersey is a great location for companies that need access to world-class infrastructure and transportation networks.

MASTERS OF DISASTER

An unprecedented superstorm with 1,000-mile-wide sustained hurricane-force winds demolishes the Jersey Shore and surrounding areas. Blizzards dump record snowfalls on Texas and Japan. A severe drought not seen since the 1930s holds more than a third of the U.S. in its arid grip.

We don’t know where all the climate-change skeptics have gone, but we don’t expect to hear from them again. Most of us now accept the grim reality that weather patterns which have endured for centuries have dramatically and perhaps permanently shifted in our lifetimes. A national conversation has begun on the short- and long-term measures we must take to deal with this new normal.

From Washington comes news that the U.S. has signed an agreement with the Netherlands for broad collaboration on disaster mitigation and sustainable planning.

Water-logged Holland probably has more experience than any other nation on what needs to be done to combat rising sea levels in low-lying areas. The Dutch have erected the world’s most sophisticated network of dams, floodgates, storm-surge barriers and levees to manage the tidal flow of the North Sea into Holland’s ubiquitous canals.

Two gigantic moving sea walls, each of which cost billions, are now operational and can be closed to protect Rotterdam, Europe’s busiest port. In the U.S., serious discussion has begun about whether it will be necessary to build a similar mega-structure to protect lower Manhattan, which when it was founded in the 1600s went by the moniker—irony alert!—New Amsterdam.

The good news is that all the talk about disaster preparedness has quickly focused on a central priority: we must engineer our ongoing disaster recovery response so that whatever emerges will have a much better chance of dealing with future onslaughts.

Business Facilities is doing its part to keep the conversation going. The keynote address at our annual LiveXchange event (May 19-21, Westin Stonebriar, Dallas, TX) will be delivered by John Copenhaver, the former FEMA director for the Southeast region of the U.S. Copenhaver’s talk is entitled “Self-Reliance: The Key to Disaster Recovery.” He will focus on the need for locations in vulnerable areas to have the resources in place to deal with the disasters to come. He also will explain why it’s critical to tailor today’s disaster recovery to  make us safer when tomorrow’s natural catastrophes arrive.

BF: The University Heights Science Park in Newark is gaining international attention, with Biotrial of France establishing its North American headquarters there. What role do Newark’s five universities play in attracting new biotech players to the state’s largest city?
KG: The Science Park is focused on drawing in technology companies that specialize in biosciences and biotechnology, information and communications, environmental and energy technology and advanced manufacturing technology. Home to 35,000 university students, researchers and professors, the research taking place and the highly skilled workforce being trained in New Jersey are the forces behind attracting new global biotech companies to Newark and to New Jersey. The state public research universities that are involved in Science Park—University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), Rutgers-Newark and New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)—annually conduct nearly $100 million of research, most of which takes place at their sponsored technology centers in Newark’s University Heights district. Additionally, Essex County College focuses on training the technicians in 11 science and technology fields.

BF: Gov. Christie recently signed the Angel Investor Tax Credit Act, which is aimed at spurring early-stage biotech investment. How does the program work?
KG: The law encourages investment in technology companies by providing a tax credit against corporation business and gross income taxes of up to 10 percent of the qualified investment, up to a maximum of $500,000 per year for each investment. The program is subject to a $25 million annual cap. To be eligible, companies must have fewer than 225 employees, with at least 75 percent of those jobs within New Jersey, and must conduct research, manufacturing or technology commercialization in the state.

BF: Data storage leader CommVault is putting its global headquarters in Fort Monmouth. Are other companies considering locating at the Fort Monmouth site?
KG: At the end of January, the State reached a significant milestone in the redevelopment of the former military installation when the first sale of property was finalized between the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) and CommVault. The global technology leader plans to undertake a three-phase project on the 55-acre site in Tinton Falls, including a 275,000-square-foot facility to serve as its worldwide corporate headquarters. Once the three phases of the project are completed, CommVault may create a total of up to 1,500 new jobs in NJ. In addition to CommVault, AcuteCare Health System is also expected to soon call the former Fort home. The company plans to reuse the former clinic as a medical facility, creating 50 new jobs in the near-term and investing a minimum of $5 million. AcuteCare is a privately owned corporation formed in 2002 to establish and manage long term acute care hospitals.

BF: How is the FMERA working to spur development at the former Army base?
KG: The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authorization Act is creating an environment where companies can invest and employment can grow. FMERA is responsible for filling the 1,127 acres of land, with a focus on attracting technology-based companies. Master broker Cushman & Wakefield continues to leverage the work of FMERA to market the former Fort Monmouth property to attract businesses and investors. The Cushman & Wakefield team established www.fort-monmouth-marketing.com to showcase the property.

BF: NJ purchased billboards at the Super Bowl and President Obama’s inauguration for its “Resilience” campaign. What is the key message of this campaign?
KG: The key message of the “State of Resilience” campaign is that New Jersey is open for business, despite being hit by Superstorm Sandy in October. The objective of this integrated marketing campaign is to share this message with corporate decision makers in targeted top markets, while reassuring companies already invested in the state. New Jersey still remains a prime location for business, and it’s our job to let the world know that. And it’s important to note that not a single tax dollar was spent on this campaign, which is being led by Choose New Jersey, Inc., the state’s nonprofit business recruitment agency in partnership with New Jersey’s private industry sector.

BF: What are the most important steps NJ is taking to improve its business climate?
KG: New Jersey is equally dedicated to attracting new jobs and investment while retaining the businesses that are here. It’s important for us to promote New Jersey’s business advantages nationally and internationally. To do this, we meet with companies across a range of sectors, as well as with site selection consultants to update them on NJ’s business value proposition. In 2010, we created the Partnership for Action. This organization is made up of the New Jersey Business Action Center, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and Choose New Jersey, Inc. Since its inception, the Partnership for Action has worked with the state government to generate a projected 64,056 new and retained jobs and more than $9.8 billion in capital investment. We also have worked with policymakers on lowering taxes, adopting a single sales factor, eliminating or streamlining the red tape and bureaucracy, and restructuring government to make it easier for our businesses to grow, while also recruiting new businesses to NJ. The bi-partisan Red Tape Commission has succeeded in removing dated regulations, fostering the use of online technology to streamline licensing and permitting applications; it continues to review the state’s regulatory process to remove obstacles that impede growth.

All of these organizations continue to work together to find new ways to improve our economy and market our key messages, so that every company knows what we can do for them in New Jersey.

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