“Making” It Through the Crisis
By Anthony Russo, President, CIANJ & John W. Kennedy, PhD., CEO, NJMEP
New Jersey has a proud history of producing the goods and products that people need in their everyday lives. Whether it’s medicines for their health, the food they eat, the house they live in or the cars they drive. New Jersey is and was a place where all these products were made, affording our residents a quality of life like no other. If there is anything we learned about this crisis, it’s that the more self-reliant we are, the better positioned we are to endure and overcome any strife.
Manufacturing is key. Investment will naturally go where it is welcomed, therefore it’s time our state lays out the “Welcome” mat to the manufactures, innovators and entrepreneurs to expand our economy and pave the way for New Jersey’s resurgence. It’s time for New Jersey to invoke the spirit of the phrase that sits on a bridge in Trenton (Trenton Makes -The World Takes) and expand it to (New Jersey Makes -The World Takes).
Our state is home to more than 10,000 manufacturers and there is room for more companies to relocate here to produce the products that are urgently needed. We are calling on our Trenton lawmakers to “open their arms” to these companies once the crisis ends. It’s time to modernize and expand our sea and airports, upgrade our roads and bridges and repurpose the many empty office buildings into locations where products can be assembled and packaged. With our ideal location, our nine million residents and our more than 50 institutions of higher learning, New Jersey is the ideal place for a manufacturing expansion and renaissance.
There is a financial axiom that the production of goods generates wealth. An expansion of our manufacturing sector will improve the standard of living for all New Jersey residents. An added benefit is the tax revenues it will bring.
Manufacturing jobs are already right here. Manufacturing gives us a huge opportunity to employ New Jersey residents, but the jobs remain unfilled due to lack of interest, lack of employability, and lack of skills. We must innovate and invest in workforce training. We must expose the public to careers in advanced manufacturing. The average annual compensation for a New Jersey manufacturing worker is over $90,000 according to the NJMEP Manufacturing Industry Report 2020. Through education and training, more New Jersey residents can access this kind of opportunity.
So how can our Trenton lawmakers “open their arms”? They need to enact laws and policies that attract this investment. Embrace apprenticeships. Embrace the use of new technologies, which minimize the use of water and reduce air emissions, through tax abatements and incentives. Pass meaningful regulatory reform which reduces the administrative burden on companies, while protecting our environment and people. Let’s make sure that our taxes and fees are reasonable and competitive to other States.
Lawmakers across the state and through our federal government also need to work on legislation that bring strategic stockpiles back on U.S. shores, as well as incentivize that production so that we are not reliant on oversees supply chains. With New Jersey being home to 14 of the world’s 20 largest pharmaceutical companies, we are in danger of not being able to protect our citizens.
Now is the time to act and make New Jersey the “Let’s Make It Here” State.