A series of game-changers, including super-sized incentives, are helping boost the economic development of the Garden State, members of IOREBA heard last week.
Over 250 members of the Industrial and Office Real Etstate Brokers Association of the New York Metropolitan Area (IOREBA), as well as industry professionals, attended the 20th annual Office Developer’s Night at the Marriott at Glenpointe Hotel in Teaneck.
The evening’s agenda focused on topics driving NJ’s commercial real estate market including, “the demand for new development, the benefits of redevelopment for prospective tenants and incentives offered through public and private sectors that are enabling New Jersey to compete against Pennsylvania and other states working hard to lure our tenants away from New Jersey,” said David A. Simon, 2011-2012 president of IOREBA and managing principal of Cassidy Turley, New Jersey, in his opening remarks.
Ted Zangari, member, Sills Cummis & Gross P.C., and panel moderator, told audience members that things in New Jersey are beginning to change on the positive side, and the Smart Growth Economic Development Coalition, which he founded, has been able to plow through several pieces of legislation that are now law. “What a difference three or four years makes,” he remarked.
“Unlike the doom and gloom speeches of years ago, I’m here to report that from an economic standpoint and after 21 years of meshing land use and public incentives in real estate transactions, I personally have not seen the government better equipped to work with the private sector than right now,” he boasted.
Zangari touched on administration incentives such as the new Grow NJ incentive program, and the Choose NJ marketing initiative, which moves business leads into the state triangle of economic development, with the twin goals of keeping businesses in New Jersey and bringing new ones to the state.
These efforts by the Christie administration are designed to “keep projects moving forward and are recipes for success — we are only going up from here,” Zangari added.
Jay Biggins, executive managing director, BLS & Co, a Princeton-based company focused on incentives advisory services and corporate site selection, discussed among other things, the success of the Transit Hub program. This program has $915 million in approvals to date with 80% of those approvals happening in 2011. According to Biggins, it has been an incredibly prolific year for the EDA and the state.
“New Jersey has been strategic, creative, flexible and ready to make the refinements as needed to make the State’s incentive programs effective in the face of challenging and changing market conditions … they have their eye on the goal,” he said.
Anthony DiTomasso, co-CEO of Ivy Realty, explained how his firm was able to use an adaptive re-use program to enable Novo Nordisk, one of New Jersey’s largest employers, to keep its North American headquarters in the state. New Jersey’s talented and educated workforce gives it “a unique and special circumstance—much like that of the financial companies in New York City — we have that luxury in New Jersey and we need these incentives to keep companies from moving out of state.”
The Choose NJ program helped keep executive vice president of The Hampshire Companies, Todd Anderson’s client, Realogy, in New Jersey. When Realogy’s CEO was ready to move his 1,300-person workforce to North Carolina, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno stepped in to help keep these integral jobs in New Jersey.
“There’s absolutely a spirit of co-operation. Before, it was just ‘no,’ and now the administration is actually working with you and giving you options and ideas to work with various situations,” Anderson commented. “There’s a ways to go, but notwithstanding, it’s a new day.”
“It is evident that New Jersey is continuing to become more ‘business friendly.’ New Jersey’s location, workforce, excellent colleges and universities and incentives gives this state a competitive advantage and makes it ideal for growth,” added Simon.