The State of New Jersey is known to many as the largest suburb in the world, a quite densely populated eclectic collection of cities and towns sandwiched between New York City to the North and Philadelphia to the South. Talk about an identity crisis. The New York Giants and the New York Jets both play here, but they don’t identify with the Garden State. Why is that?
Our television and radio stations are all major New York City and Philadelphia stations with a few smaller cable channels located somewhere in New Jersey for show. The Mass transit commuter train and bus system is built around commutation to and from New York City, so the folks who work here in New Jersey have mostly lousy commutation choices for travel by any way other than by car. Rather recent in our history, we find that over 7 percent of the New Jersey population is now comprised of illegal aliens. If you add to that the high taxes, traffic, ancient infrastructure, old crumbling cities, airports and highways, and the low test scores and crime in our inner cities, you will start to see a somewhat bleak picture.
Enter the new Governor. With State elections just behind us and a new political party coming to power, the New Jersey business community finds itself in quite a dilemma. What exactly will the new State administration do to incentivize businesses to come and to stay in New Jersey?
From an historical perspective, New Jersey is usually rated just about dead last in the competition for business through its anemic Municipal Incentive programs. In the war of the states, New Jersey has historically been AWOL. It is hard to imagine that the new administration will suddenly find bringing business to New Jersey a high priority, and I certainly cannot see our legislature spending many millions of dollars to create a nationally competitive incentive program.
New Jersey is at a crossroads. Author Thomas Friedman has correctly identified through his series of best-selling books that the world of business is very flat indeed; so flat that businesses can literally locate anywhere they choose. So, why should they choose New Jersey?
For the answer, keep your eyes on Trenton. In the next few months we will begin to see how our business community is to be treated by this administration, and whether it will choose to be competitive in the incentive race.
New Jersey still has a lot going for it, particularly in the distribution sector. After all, New Jersey is located within 600 miles of one third of the entire population of the United States. Amazon seems to have figured this out, as they focus on new expansion in 2018. Our industrial base remains strong with less than a 7 percent vacancy in manufacturing and warehouse space.
The real question for 2018 is can we keep up the creative struggle to repurpose the former sites of those who have left, such as Merck and Sanofi Aventis to name a few and can we keep up a strong pace of releasing office inventories?
For this New Year, we at Dickstein Real Estate Services have pledged to keep our eyes firmly on the ball. We will listen carefully to the concerns of our customers as we seek to implement creative solutions to the complex issues they must face.