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GRAPEVINE: Lesniak's bill a 'start'

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) saw the first part of his Economic Opportunity Act of 2014 come up on the Senate floor last week.

While its name hints at being the successor to its well-known predecessor, the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, it's really quite different. This bill mostly focuses on affordable housing and redevelopment issues rather than a wide-scale incentives makeover.

It includes components Lesniak says he wanted in EO13 but pulled out, not wanting to hold up the bill any longer.

One source says it's "the start" of the incentives conversation reopening, but not quite what the business community was looking for.

Instead, what's needed is a bill that "fine tunes some of the pieces of the original EO13," the source said.

But with EO13 not yet in its first year of implementation, there's no announced date for when it will be revisited.

Pay attention to the port

Last week, a coalition of members from the labor, business and legislative communities took to Port Elizabeth to call on the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor to immediately fill what it says are 500 job vacancies at the region's ports.

The bistate agency, which claims that facts are being distorted, needs to get out of the hiring process at the ports, the coalition says.

The Assembly did what it could do last Thursday, passing a resolution urging the New York Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to pass their own version of New Jersey's bill. We'll see where it goes.

Meanwhile, one source in the business community here says the issue is of "value and importance" to the region.

If companies are experiencing major delays due to labor shortages at our nearby ports, they'll send their business elsewhere, the source said.

"Other ports are biting at the chops to steal that away from us," the source said.

Politics may need to be put aside to work in the best interest of the local port economy and ensure that the state is "keeping the freight containers coming in.

"The port is one of our most intrinsic, valuable pieces of economic development and jobs that we have here in New Jersey," the source said.

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