Someone asked us the other day if we had gone to the governor’s press conference announcing his economic growth strategy. Timing did not permit us to attend. But now everyone is talking about how New Jersey finally has a pro-business governor, willing to go out and personally sell New Jersey as a good place to do business. His goal: for everyone in state government to “speak with one voice” to encourage economic growth.
The Einstein’s Alley organization was represented at the press conference, and expressed delight about how its own goals — to create jobs, stimulate innovation, prepare the workforce to support a research-based economy, and enhance the livability of communities in central New Jersey — are “perfectly aligned” with the six priority areas that the governor identified.
But how new is the governor’s six point plan, with its familiar buzzwords (“helping business to grow and prosper,” “world class work-force,” “sustainable growth,” “development of new technologies,” and “global competitiveness”)?
Many of the nuts-and-bolts implementations of these goals sound oh-so-familiar, but with one big difference — they concentrate power in Corzine’s new Economic Growth Council, headed by his former Goldman Sachs cohort, Gary D. Rose. (Note that Rose was earlier appointed to chair the state commerce commission board; the commission’s CEO continues to be Virginia Bauer.) Rose wrote the governor’s report.
Marketing strategy? Each governor has reinvented the wheel with a new marketing plan and so will Corzine. Rose will be in charge of the new plan.
Improve access to state business? Each administration has vowed to cut red tape. Rose’s solutions include a brand new website (different from the commerce commission’s current website) and a centralized state call center. (We have been hearing about centralized call centers since 1994).
Attracting business to New Jersey? Every administration revamps the team in charge of this, and Rose plans to revamp it again. But Rose’s team won’t have to ask for cooperation from other departments: It will “deploy the resources of the state” and “combine all of the sales, support, and marketing resources currently available in other state departments and authorities.”
These are all good ideas, but most have been put forward before.
The good news is that the Rose-Corzine team also understands the need for measuring return on investment. They layer accountability into some of the most important programs.
And though previous governors have set up business think tanks, such as Prosperity New Jersey, they had almost no real power. Not only does Rose have Corzine’s trust, but does he also have the power and moxie to make sweeping changes? If he does, that will be real news.