New Jersey will have a point person based in Europe to attract investment and businesses worldwide to the state under a new plan for developing its “innovation economy,” Choose New Jersey President Jose Lozano said Tuesday.
According to Lozano, Choose New Jersey will have a point person based in Germany to scour Europe for companies and investment. Funding for the person and a promotional office would come entirely from Choose New Jersey at no cost to the state, he added.
Joining Lozano at Tuesday’s event in East Rutherford hosted by the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, Brian Sabina, senior vice president for economic transformation at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, agreed with the position held by Gov. Phil Murphy that the state needs to move away from using tax incentives as the primary means of attracting companies.
“They were especially important in 2008 in the midst of this recession,” Sabina said. “These were … fairly aggressive incentives to keep companies here and that was very important at the time.”
Now, Sabina said, the state’s focus has to shift to “innovation sectors,” including pharmacy, advanced manufacturing, technology and engineering.
To that end, Lozano said, Choose New Jersey plans to market these industries from within the state.
“We’re going to target specific markets,” Lozano said. “In the next two or three months, if you’re out in California, you’ll get a glimpse” of New Jersey.
The EDA will identify those key growth industries, Sabina said, and Choose New Jersey will promote those sectors of the state’s economy.
Murphy has been repeatedly critical of how the prior administration issued tax credits. Under former Gov. Chris Christie, the NJEDA awarded $8 billion in tax breaks.
“Economic incentives will be part of our recipe, there’s no question about that,” Murphy told NJBIZ. “They’re a tactic, not a strategy. They were a strategy in the last administration.”
The state has two economic incentive programs: Grow NJ and the Economic Redevelopment and Growth tax credits. Both are awarded by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and scheduled to sunset July 1, 2019.
In July, the NJEDA board approved spending about $1.9 million to fund a two-year study of the state’s incentive programs by consultancy McKinsey & Co.