Bow to Bipartisanship in New Jersey Jobs Bill

Economic Opportunities Act of 2013


El Hispano/J.Smith

Camden –  For Camden residents and students looking for a brighter future in terms of job growth for the beleaguered city of ninety thousand, the statue of a skyward pointing Walt Whitman in the middle of the Rutgers University campus may be just be looking right direction.   

   On September 18th, Governor Chris Christie signed into law the Economic Opportunities Act (EOA), a measure sponsored by  Assemblyman Ruben Ramos (D-Hudson), which specifically seeks to consolidate and clarify  a number of economic development programs into dual programs that are more accessible to businesses.

  Describing the EOA as a “comprehensive overhaul of the state’s economic incentive programs,”  Assemblymen Ramos said it was a “big step” in creating jobs and “sparking economic growth throughout New Jersey.’

 “No bill is perfect,” added Assemblyman Ramos. “But this will make our economic incentives  more effective and keep jobs in the state.”   

  The revamped programs, GROW NJ  and the Economic Re-development & Growth Program, are the two programs emerging from this development law, which was co-sponsored by State Sen. Teresa Ruiz and Assemblyman Angel Fuentes.

   Under the Grow NJ program, grants in the form of tax credits will be available to businesses that agree to preserve full-time in-state jobs and/or increase their hiring that extends five years beyond the grant’s ten year period.

  This legislation specifically focused on eliminating the arduous obstacle that required capital investments of $20 million in the business, rendering many businesses ineligible for the incentives.

    After signing the legislation, Governor Chris Christie drew a sharp contrast between the “ability of both parties to work together” in New Jersey, with the partisanship that has seized Washington D.C. Offering perhaps a taste of a future campaign message, the New Jersey Governor then enumerated the state’s “four consecutive years of job growth (430,000),” balanced budgets and targeted tax cuts.

   Senate President Stephen Sweeney followed noting that, “jobs aren’t Republican or Democrat,” adding that “we need jobs.”

   “Any type of program which incentivizes creation of jobs or keeping jobs is a step in the right direction,” Jason Rivera, a Doctoral Researcher at Rutgers University School of Social Policy told El Hispano.  “But getting companies and organizations to stay for the long haul in a city like Camden is the real need.

   “There is just  a severe lack of job opportunities in this city.”