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Editorial: Easy to find incentive to support this award

The former Roche campus sits on 119 acres in Nutley and Clifton.
The former Roche campus sits on 119 acres in Nutley and Clifton. - ()

Even for a business journal, incentives are not always an easy thing to support. There's no question that they're good for business — at least, the business that gets them. And New Jersey has made plenty of headlines for handing out millions of dollars, in some cases seeming mere hostages at the hands of large companies who have realized they can play state governments against one another in a zero-sum game.

When a worthy project gets assistance from Trenton to speed a development to its conclusion, though, it is easy to support. That’s certainly the case with a joint project between Seton Hall University and Hackensack University Medical Center that would transform the former Roche tower on the Nutley-Clifton border into what will become New Jersey’s first privately owned medical school. The Economic Development Authority awarded nearly $17 million to advance a project that many expected would never come to pass in 2012, when Roche announced it was leaving.

We’re enthusiastic about this project, first announced back in January, for a number of reasons. The Hackensack-Seton Hall partnership brings two of the smartest organizations in North Jersey to the same table. It takes advantage of the state’s growing influence in health care and education — and specifically, the growing overlap in those two areas, which remains an area of untapped economic potential. And it returns jobs and economic activity to an area that was hard-hit when Roche broke camp. That all seems like a pretty good return on a $17 million investment, especially when such a large ratable is sitting empty.

Hackensack-Seton Hall med school makes sense on so many levels that approving $17M credit is no-brainer.

If you’re looking for even more good news on this one, it’s the speed with which both parties are moving on this. Seton Hall is planning to welcome its first class in 2017 — proof of how seriously the South Orange university is taking this project. It hopes to one day house 2,000 students, staff and faculty researchers from the medical, nursing and health schools under one roof.

The work at the Roche site is far from over. As extensive as the Hackensack-Seton Hall application is, it still represents less than half of the vacant space at the site. But this is excellent news in a place that has struggled to find optimism since the pharmaceuticals giant started to decamp from New Jersey. Hopefully, the Swiss drugmaker can quickly move forward on firming up details of the lease so that the next major obstacle facing the project can be cleared with relative ease.

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