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EDA’s emergency management

With a long-delayed incentives overhaul on its way to becoming law, the state is rolling out emergency guidelines to open itself for business under the new programs, sources said.

One person said the Economic Development Authority could start accepting applications for the new incentives as soon as October, assuming Chris Christie signs the Economic Opportunity Act into law as expected. To do so, a source said, the agency is expected to adopt temporary regulations and formalize them at a later time.

The move would allow many firms and developers to break their holding patterns of the past several months, as they waited on lawmakers and administration officials who wrangled over the high-stakes bill. But the lengthy delay also has allowed the EDA to prepare for a wave of applications, a source said.

The person said the normal process of adopting regulations “just takes time, and there would be a significant void if they went with that process,” because big-ticket incentives like the Urban Transit Hub and Grow New Jersey tax credits are running on empty.

Sale of Ortho sensible for J&J

Speculation has resurfaced that Johnson & Johnson is looking sell its blood-test division, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, by the end of the year.

Sources following the pharma industry say such a move make sense because blood tests tend to be a low-tech, lower-margin business, offering less returns than newer categories of tests, such as molecular diagnostics, which examine genes.

“This is not a high-margin business,” one source said of blood tests. “It does not add to return on investment. Why do low ROI? It makes no sense. Twenty years ago, you could, because no one else was doing it. But now smaller companies are doing it at lower cost.”

The Wall Street Journal has reported J&J is talking to other health care companies and private equity investors. The New Brunswick-based company isn't talking now, though CEO Alex Gorsky in January said the company was considering divesting the asset as it  focuses more on higher growth drivers. 

Gorsky has said the blood-testing unit may be a better fit as part of another company, or as a standalone company.

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Tom Bergeron at tomb@njbiz.com.

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