A Wealth of Opportunity in South Jersey
New Jersey's economic outlook is challenging. Small businesses are continually crushed by burdensome regulations and excessive local and state taxes. Multinational corporations, once thriving locally, have packed up operations and relocated to more business-friendly jurisdictions out of state. With congestion in many parts of our state and a shortage of readily-available qualified employees, there isn't a compelling case for entrepreneurs or established businesses to look to many parts of New Jersey for opportunity and growth. Unless, of course, they look toward South Jersey.
Previously only thought of for its manufacturing and agricultural sectors, the explosion of diverse industries including healthcare, aviation, tourism and entertainment have encouraged investors and business leaders to take a second look at South Jersey.
The region has some exciting projects in the works that should be a serious consideration for any business looking for new opportunities. One major facility - the New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville - recently opened to an enthusiastic reception and promising future. With more than 700 acres of planned racing tracks, restaurants, hotel rooms and meeting space, there is ample opportunity for additional investment and business development in a region that is seeing increased visitor traffic.
In neighboring Atlantic County, there is considerable buzz around the upcoming ground-breaking of the planned Aviation Research & Technology Park. The Park will provide an environment where advanced concepts in aviation research can be explored by engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians and air traffic controllers to advance the modernization and protection of our national airspace system and increase airspace and airport capacity. Adjacent to the William J. Hughes Federal Aviation Administration Technical Center and the Atlantic City International Airport, this joint venture with the Richard Stockton College, Atlantic County Government and the South Jersey Economic Development District will bring an estimated 2,000 jobs and $80 million in private investment to the region.
While these projects clearly diversify South Jersey's economic base, it should not be inferred that the region has deserted its historical roots. Quite the opposite! With forty-five percent of the state's farm lands, South Jersey was the only logical home for the unique partnership of Rutgers University and local farmers known as the Food Innovation Center. Located in Bridgeton, this economic development accelerator program provides business and technology expertise - from market research and product development to workforce training and quality assurance - to small and mid-sized food companies across New Jersey. I was pleased to secure the initial federal funding needed to break ground on the project, and strongly believe the Rutgers' Food Innovation Center will be a partner in reaching food and agribusinesses not only in New Jersey, but throughout the nation.
Similarly, the sectors of tourism and gaming remain critical to the future of South Jersey and the state's overall economic growth. With nearly $10 billion in planned casino expansions in the pipeline, Atlantic City's casinos continue to draw tens of millions of visitors annually to their gaming floors, luxury shops, first-class spas and top performance venues. Likewise, the shore communities along Atlantic and Cape May Counties continue to be equally attractive to visitors and residents. With a reliable consumer base, both sectors provide additional opportunities for new businesses to enter the market.
While South Jersey provides a wealth of opportunity for new business ventures or expansions of existing companies, it also holds significant job potential for residents and those looking to relocate. Projects like the Aviation Research Park and Food Innovation Center will create thousands of high-wage jobs to the region and I've been proud to partner on these and similar investments in South Jersey's future. I strongly believe that government does not create jobs, but that it creates opportunities for economic growth and prosperity. New Jersey must stop being an obstacle to business through excessive regulations and taxation. In order for our residents and our economy to thrive, we must foster the wealth of opportunity, not squander it.