Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read May 2021 — The story of New Jersey is entering a new chapter of growth and opportunities. The state is expecting a V-shaped recovery on the back of a thriving housing market and a booming renewable energy, logistics and distribution and manufacturing trifecta. Jose Lozano, president and CEO of Choose New Jersey, shares his viewpoint with Invest:.
How has Choose New Jersey helped stimulate economic activity over this past year?
In the past year, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the creation of Choose New Jersey. We had anticipated and wanted our 10th anniversary to be our strongest year, although it proved to be the most challenging one. Yet, we can still put a feather in our cap and be extremely proud of the success we had. We were able to convince 33 companies to call New Jersey home in the middle of a pandemic. That in itself was quite significant. Over our 10-year life span, we have attracted over $6.2 billion worth of capital investments, 19,000 new and retained jobs and assisted 300 companies in relocating or expanding within the state.
The pandemic gave folks that were not as familiar with New Jersey the opportunity to see first-hand what we already have taken for granted for so long: it’s a great place to raise a family. New Jersey’s residential market for single family homes is up 38% year over year because we saw so many folks needing more space and wanting to be in the suburbs to spread out a bit more. People have really started to see some of the things that we all love so much about New Jersey. While the pandemic was a challenge, there still are significant, untapped opportunities here. We strongly feel that New Jersey will recover much faster and better, and that we’ll come out of the pandemic stronger than we were going in.
What do you see as the most significant economic developments happening right now in the South Jersey region?
The wind port that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and Governor Murphy announced less than a year ago will play a pivotal role in South Jersey. South Jersey is a critical cog in the machine of the Governor’s goal to be using 100 percent clean energy by 2050. We do believe a whole industry will be born because of it.
A decade from now, offshore wind will emerge as one of New Jersey’s top industries, and no one will be able to have a conversation on clean energy investment in the U.S. without mentioning South Jersey’s wind port. It will generate thousands of jobs at the port and in the region. The supply chain that feeds the interest in that field will absolutely want to move into South Jersey. There are residual components within this niche that will also want to be much closer to that port. We are unable to put our finger on the exact residual benefit but we are confident it will prove substantial. No other state in this country right now has been able to pull together what we are trying to pull together.
In addition to the port, logistics, distribution and manufacturing has always been strong in South Jersey and it is only becoming stronger. What we saw in the pandemic was that companies were too reliant on their entire operations being in one location. We are starting to see companies realizing that they need to diversify their locations and their supply chain to ensure that any future disruptions will not hamper it. It also represents an opportunity for South Jersey, which has much more significant land availability, reasonable, affordable price points and easy access to the ports and highways. It gives New Jersey a huge edge. We are starting to see a bit of an uptick on that. For example, Freshly, a healthy meal kit delivery company, is growing in New Jersey and bringing close to 400 new jobs to East Greenwich in Gloucester County. The ability to reach more consumers along the East Coast was a major draw for the company’s expansion.
What areas of South Jersey are being viewed as potential work, live, play areas?
For the first time in recorded history, home sales are up in all 21 counties. South Jersey is up pretty significantly. Cherry Hill has always been an attractive suburb, and the market is booming in Haddonfield, Washington Township and Mount Laurel. Anything that is even remotely within spitting distance of the ocean has done quite well. Cape May is morphing from a summer destination to a 12-month season.
What is your outlook for South Jersey and the benefits companies can have by working with Choose New Jersey?
Our outlook is extremely positive. We believe that New Jersey will experience a V-shaped recovery. It will bounce back much faster and better than some of our competing states. The areas that we consider our peers are California, New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. New Jersey will only become stronger as we come out of the pandemic. There are a lot of opportunities and growth to be had.
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