State of the State 2019 and Economic Development

Photo of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy

Economic development took center stage during Governor Phil Murphy’s first State of the State address on January 15, 2019.  During his speech, he mentioned reports, initiatives, and organizations that should be on the radar of libraries across the state, especially those offering business services.

Let’s take a closer look:

What is the audit of tax incentive programs Governor Murphy mentioned?

A Performance Audit of Selected State Tax Incentive Programs” was released earlier this month and evaluated programs that offer tax incentives to businesses in order to encourage them to stay or expand their operations in New Jersey.  The audit raised questions about how successful these initiatives have been and whether there is sufficient data being collected to prove how many jobs have actually been created or saved.  The audit further signaled that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, under new leadership since the inauguration of Governor Murphy, will reevaluate incentives for businesses.  The Governor’s Economic Master Plan, which was released in October 2018, explained in more detail how the priorities of the NJEDA would shift under the new administration.

Effect on libraries: Nothing directly.  However, if the focus of financial incentives shifts to small and mid-size businesses, libraries may be more likely to have qualified business owners in their buildings.  Staying aware of initiatives from the NJEDA can help to develop resource lists and programs of interest to the business community.

What is Rising Tide Capital and what do they offer entrepreneurs?

According to their website, “Rising Tide Capital is a non-profit organization whose mission is to assist struggling individuals and communities to build strong businesses which transform lives, strengthen families, and build sustainable communities.”  They offer multi-week training programs for individuals considering starting a business in Jersey City, the City of Orange Township, Union City, Elizabeth, and Newark.  In addition, they provide counseling for business owners and work with a network of financial partners to assist businesses in getting capital.  They focus on under-served areas and groups that are typically underrepresented in business.

Effect on libraries: I wasn’t aware of this organization, but I certainly want to learn more and make sure they are aware of library resources to assist entrepreneurs and business owners!  Is anyone partnering with them?  If so, email me and tell me more!

Who are ALICE?

ALICE stands for “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed” and represents a large segment of the population that is employed but struggling to afford the basics, such as housing, food, transportation, health care, etc. The research about ALICE started in New Jersey and has expanded nationally.  For a map and statistics, visit the United Way website.  In 2017, the New Jersey State Library hosted a webinar about ALICE to research with libraries.  Governor Murphy mentioned ALICE as he discussed growing inequality in New Jersey and the need for measures that support the middle class.

Effect on libraries: ALICE visits libraries every day.  The resources and services available at libraries help families to make ends meet or fill in gaps.  As libraries in New Jersey continue to consider how to best serve their communities, the research on ALICE can provide important insights.

What are Opportunity Zones?

According to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs website, “The Opportunity Zones program was enacted as part of the 2017 federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and is designed to drive long-term capital investments into low-income rural and urban communities. This federal program provides opportunities for private investors to support investments in distressed communities through participation in Qualified Opportunity Funds.”  There are Opportunity Zones in every county, and some municipalities have more than one since they are based on census tract.  Visit the New Jersey Opportunity Zones website for more information.

Effect on libraries: Not directly, but Opportunity Zones pave the way for reinvesting in low-income communities.  Stay tuned for regional events to learn more and stay informed on developments in your area if your libraries falls within an Opportunity Zone.

Final verdict?

Every new administration, especially ones which flip which party is represented in the Governor’s Office, brings significant changes in policy.  Governor Murphy is looking at measures that will affect small and mid-size companies, which will in turn, provide new opportunities to grow and develop partnerships in their own business communities.  What those opportunities will be remain to be seen, but it is important to stay informed of new developments, especially as they are discussed and implemented locally.  Personally, I am excited and see great potential in sharing the good work of libraries with the new leadership in the current administration.  If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please reach out!

About Andrea Levandowski

I am the Project Manager for Small Business Development and Technology at the New Jersey State Library. Formerly, I worked as the Reference Librarian for Instruction and Fundraising Information.