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Survey shows CEO confidence in N.J. is on rise

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Despite the economic challenges facing businesses, 25 percent of CEOs in New Jersey said the state is a good-to-excellent place to do business, up from 12 percent in 2010, according to the results of the New Jersey Economic Policy Summit’s 2013 C-Suite Survey of Garden State CEOs.

“Confidence in New Jersey as a place to do business continues to improve,” said James W. Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, which conducts the survey. “In addition, 36 percent of CEOs participating in the survey expect to increase capital spending here over the next year, continuing a positive upward trend seen in earlier surveys.”

In the findings, 28 percent of CEOs said New Jersey is a good-to-excellent place to expand their business, up from 11 percent in 2010. As for hiring, 34 percent said they expect to expand their work force, and 49 percent think economic conditions will improve in the next 12 months.

“Generally speaking, the executives who participated were reasonably optimistic about the future, the most they have been since we started the survey,” Hughes said. “It’s not surprising: The state’s economy has really picked up in the last two years in terms of job growth.”

The results of the survey were presented today at the Bloustein School at the summit’s sixth annual conference. The summit aims to identify, understand and address concerns, challenges and opportunity for the future economic health of the state. Kevin McArdle, Statehouse bureau chief for Townsquare Media New Jersey, moderated the panel, which included Gualberto “Gil” Medina, from Cushman & Wakefield; Philip Kirschner, president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association; and Bernie Flynn, president and CEO of New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group.

“The final question asked if they had optimism or pessimism about the future,” Hughes said. “They answered optimism across the board, although they do recognize that some problems still exist.”

Some of the challenges expressed by the CEOs are that they still rank New Jersey unfavorably in terms of the business tax climate, and they see the regulatory environment as a difficult one.

“The governor’s office was given high marks in terms of trying to correct the situation,” Hughes said. “The administration should feel good about that response from them.”

Hughes said the results were the most positive they have received since the survey began in 2007, which was before the recession began, and though the last three years of recovery.

“Hopefully, nothing comes along to knock us off this good perch we’re on,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a good 2013.”

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