By Meghan Hunscher, President & CEO
Morris County Chamber of Commerce & Morris County Economic Development Corporation
The Morris County Chamber of Commerce is addressing on a statewide level the challenges that businesses are encountering as a steering committee member of Opportunity New Jersey (ONJ), a non-partisan coalition, and a member of the Economic Development Advisory Council. The ONJ “Plan for an Affordable New Jersey” intends to set New Jersey on a path to increased competitiveness. Since more than 80% of economic growth is a result of expansion of existing businesses, we need our state legislators to advance policies that support New Jersey businesses even as we seek to attract new companies to the state.
New Jersey’s diverse economy, an ideal geographic location and extensive infrastructure, which should all make the Garden State attractive to businesses. But when it comes to relieving corporate and personal tax burdens the state consistently ranks in the bottom of the fifty states year after year. Fiscal headwinds impede New Jersey’s competitiveness and high wage job growth.
Low unemployment makes cultivating talent and ensuring career pathways key to growth of our economy. This includes retaining young professionals and retraining seasoned workers. The Chamber and EDC, which work closely with the Workforce Development Board, have made strengthening the workforce a priority. Initiatives include: the launch of a Talent and Human Resources Committee and mentor program, the development of an on-line jobs database featuring employers in the county that will also include internships, support of local job fairs, and administering a GAINS apprenticeship grant in conjunction with the German American Chamber and the County College of Morris.
Morris County consistently ranks as a “top 10” county in the nation based on household income and quality of life. The county boasts the highest about of preserved land in the state while producing an impressive $53 billion gross regional product, which is greater than five states. However, business surveys have revealed that talent is deterred from locating in New Jersey due to high housing costs. As the Chamber educates the business community on best practices related to talent attraction and retention, the EDC is preparing a relocation guide that will promote the county’s variety of employment and housing choices.
The ONJ’S “Plan for an Affordable New Jersey” puts forth grant and tax-credit investments in workforce training and job placement programs, business tax structure reforms, reinforces the need to drive capital investments into lower income communities the Opportunity Zone program and aligns with the broad tenants of Governor Murphy’s new vision for tax incentives. The ONJ’s Economic Development and Advisory Council plans to meet with policymakers in Trenton to provide input on legislation that positions New Jersey for not only fiscal stability, but business and job growth. New Jersey’s loss of talent will have long term negative effects if it is not addressed. The Morris County Chamber of Commerce is proud to be working toward a solution with the ONJ coalition.
To learn more about the Plan for an Affordable New Jersey, and the formation of the New Jersey Economic Development and Advisory Council, please visit www.opportunitynj.org. Make sure to click Join Our Mailing List to stay updated on news and developments.