New Jersey: Highly Educated, Perfectly Situated

New Jersey's recipe for growth blends a set of powerful ingredients, including a highly educated workforce, major transportation and logistics advantages, a diverse and innovative industry mix, and a government that is committed to making it easier for businesses to do business in the state.

Stephanie Vozza
On Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 14:48

Though its nickname as the Garden State refers to its roots in agriculture and food production, New Jersey blossoms with innovation, opportunity and promise. The state’s recipe for growth blends a set of powerful ingredients, including a highly educated workforce, major transportation and logistics advantages, a diverse and innovative industry mix, and a government that is committed to making it easier for businesses to do business in the state. Those efforts are bearing fruit. The Garden State’s $487 billion highly diverse economy is anchored by major concentrations in financial services, advanced manufacturing, and logistics and breakthrough industries, including biopharmaceuticals, life sciences, information technology and renewable energy, where the state has earned a global reputation. New Jersey is a highly desirable corporate address, home base for 21 companies on the 2012 Fortune 500 and major operations from a roster of globally known companies such as Bank of America, Verizon, L’Oreal USA and Stryker Orthopaedics.

The Right Connections

The state’s sophisticated and fully integrated transportation infrastructure makes it a logistical leader and focal point for international commerce. More than 130 million consumers live within a day’s drive of New Jersey, and its ports assets include the busiest maritime cargo center on the East Coast. A survey by Area Development magazine of site location consultants put the state third for highway and rail accessibility on the 2012 Top States for Doing Business rankings. New Jersey’s logistics advantages and world-class shipping facilities have cemented the state’s reputation as an export leader. More than $38.1 billion in goods were shipped from the state in 2011, up more than 18.5 percent from the previous year. The state is a major exporter of chemicals, petroleum products, computers and electronics, and transportation equipment, among others. According to the Organization for International Investment, New Jersey ranks seventh among states in the number of jobs at U.S. subsidiaries of global companies – more than 223,000 jobs in total or nearly 7 percent of the state’s private-sector workforce.

Powered by Knowledge

One of the state’s key strengths is in the skill and education of its workforce, owing in no small part to the high quality of its 63 public and private colleges and universities. New Jersey ranks fifth among states in educational attainment, with more than 34 percent of adults over age 25 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. CNBC ranked the state No. 4 for quality of education on its 2012 America’s Top States for Business rankings. New Jersey claims 184,000 workers in science-related professions and the highest concentration of scientists and engineers in the world. It ranks first among states in the employment of chemists, second for biochemists and third for microbiologists. The life sciences and biopharmaceutical sector alone employs more than 125,000 people in the state and numbers 17 of the world’s 20 largest biopharmaceutical companies including Merck, Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Business-Friendly Climate

The positive economic momentum has not been by accident. Under the leadership of Gov. Chris Christie, the state has created a coordinated and highly focused effort to promote investment and jobs. Since the governor took office in 2010, New Jersey has added nearly 85,000 new private-sector jobs. In 2011, the state posted its best private sector job growth year in more than a decade, according to Rutgers University research. The New Jersey Partnership for Action, led by Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, consists of three highly focused organizational elements – the Business Action Center , the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and Choose New Jersey, – that attract new business investment, link companies to incentive programs and provide economic development services. . Among its efforts to stimulate business expansion, the Christie administration has awarded $1.7 billion in tax incentives for companies across a variety of industries to create and retain jobs in the state, and raised its research and development tax credit program from 50 percent to 100 percent. It is that type of commitment that was recognized in 2012 by national site selection trade publication Business Facilities, which awarded its inaugural Achievement in Reorganization of Economic Development Award to the Partnership for Action in recognition of the scope of its economic development reorganization initiative. “Business Facilities continues to be impressed with this reorganization’s focus on a steady improvement of the state’s business climate. We believe the Partnership for Action now has the plan and structure in place to move New Jersey into the top rank of national economic development leaders,” says Jack Rogers, Business Facilities editor-in-chief. “The change has been dramatic and effective.” Business Facilities also noted the state’s strengths in such areas as biotechnology in its 2012 Best States rankings, placing it at the top in such categories as biotechnology strength and workforce health and safety. “This ranking confirms that the Christie administration’s pro-business policies, along with New Jersey’s highly educated workforce, are successfully working to restore the Garden State’s reputation as a prime location for companies to invest and grow,” Lt. Gov. Guadagno says. “Businesses around the state and the nation are taking note that the New Jersey Comeback is indeed underway,”