Jobs Data in NJ Still Missing from Tax Incentive Recipients
As the New Jersey Economic Development Authority Board (EDA) met today, but there is still no update on jobs data for tax credit recipients in Camden and elsewhere. Specifically, we want definitive data on how many jobs have been created, and how many local residents have benefitted from these jobs.
Over the last eight months, claims about job numbers in public statements by Norcross-connected elected officials and politically-connected nonprofit organizations have been alarmingly inconsistent.
In January, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership hired a consulting firm to write a reportthat claims at least 1,900 jobs were created in Camden as a result of the EOA – with 5,000 on the way. But there was no reference to the source of these numbers. No citation. Jobs- where? For whom? In what companies?
In June, a familiar cast of NJ politicians weighted in on Camden’s jobs landscape. Senators Booker and Menendez joinedwith former Governor Christie, Congressman Norcross, and Senate President Sweeney, and others, to assert that the number of new jobs for Camden residents was 850 – a sharp departure from the January figures. And once again, the piece provided no explanation, no link to confirm this claim, no hard data.
And, just last week, the Philadelphia Inquirer celebratedCooper’s Ferry for “developing information about how many jobs have been added in the city and how many of those jobs are held by city residents.” First it was 1,900 new jobs, then it was 850, and now Coopers Ferry is “developing information?” Why is there such inconsistency?
These discrepancies beg explanation. How did Econsult arrive at its figures? What methodology did the politicians in June use? And what information is currently being “developed” by Coopers Ferry? Do they have access to information that the EDA does not?
Without hard data, we cannot answer basic questions about the program’s efficacy.
There is an opportunity now for transparency. The EDA, under Tim Sullivan’s direction, recently sent a job creation survey to companies that benefited from the EOA asking for hiring data.
It is crucial companies that were awarded over a $1 billion in New Jersey tax incentives fully comply with this EDA survey, and they do it quickly, while also supplying supporting documentation that backs up their job claims. Otherwise, we are trusting the same companies that are under investigation for submitting fraudulent tax credit applications to be honest about jobs data.
It is our demand that whatever jobs data is available- whether it be housed at Coopers Ferry, the Mayor’s office, or at corporate headquarters- be made public immediately. Only by fully studying the data can we measure progress and ensure that city residents are prioritized.
And only then can we have an informed public conversation about reforming the Economic Opportunity Act, the legislation that enabled one of the most expensive boondoggles in NJ history.