Corrections or additions?
These articles by Barbara Fox were prepared for the January 29, 2003 edition of U.S.
1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Promoting the Princeton Corridor
Some of us know intuitively how important
this corridor is," says patent attorney Dick Woodbridge
citing statistics such as how Princeton is the first in the nation
in dotcoms per capita. The Princeton area also has a high record for
submitted patents (second only to San Jose) and venture capital dollars
(third to Boston and San Jose).
When Woodbridge spoke at the Society of Internet Professionals Meeting
on January 8, he made a pitch for promoting Central New Jersey with
a major initiative. Drawing on corporate and government participation,
Woodbridge is trying to form an adhoc committee for this purpose (www.njiplaw.com).
Twelve years ago he participated in a similar group, headed by Jim
Clingham of Sarnoff, which aimed to promote the Route 1 corridor
as New Jersey’s Silicon Valley. This group put together a promotion
for Princeton and Rutgers Research Corridor (PARRC) that culminated
in a publication and signs along the highway. But PARRC never did
have much of an impact. In retrospect, says Woodbridge, "it was
too much to expect the major institutions (Princeton and Rutgers)
to take a major role in getting the state to participate."
In the past decade the state government has taken various, sometimes
conflicting, steps to enlist corporate support for promoting the state.
First there was Prosperity New Jersey. Then Governor Christie Whitman’s
administration changed that to Innovation Garden State, with emphasis
on a website with information to lure high tech businesses. The McGreevey
administration abandoned that website, re-assumed the name Prosperity
New Jersey, and re-ordered its priorities to be de-emphasize promotion
and more greatly emphasize education.
With Adam Pechter
out university support by making Princeton University President Shirley
Tilghman the cochair, along with the
CEO of Johnson and Johnson. With financial support from the pharma
and biotech community, Prosperity New Jersey is emphasizing the state’s
Woodbridge, who has been active in Republican politics in the past,
says that New Jersey "has to be real careful in terms of the image
"I think the state has got to refocus on the small startup business,"
says Woodbridge, noting that startups are flourishing even in a recession
— especially in a recession. When the big companies like Lucent
go through a downsizing, ex-employees start their own companies. "Even
in a mediocre economy, we see `destructive regeneration.’"
"The state does a lot of flashy stuff such as Prosperity New Jersey,
but the state really doesn’t help, the way it should, the businesses
that are going to replace the Lucents," says Woodbridge. "Their
business retention program is not bad but the state can be perceived
as having a high tax/low return on investment."
"It is still a good place to do business, but it has some characteristics
not attractive to small business and new businesses. The tax structure,
from a distance, would not make you want to jump up and down. New
Jersey has one of the highest gross personal incomes, but if a corporation
sees that New Jersey pays the highest wages for the same service,
that is not attractive."
New Jersey is a tax inefficient state, he says, because it pays a
lot of money in taxes and gets less in return (67 cents on the dollar)
than any other state. For retirees the state is the second most expensive
in the nation; the average New Jersey retiree couple with a $60,000
annual income pays $7,221 in taxes. (Pennsylvania comes in first in
this undesirable ranking.)
"Take a look at what you are getting vs what you are paying for,"
he advises entrepreneurs. If, like the pharmas, you need lots of the
employees that New Jersey has, it makes sense to be here. "If
your business is more transportable and doesn’t have to be close to
people you serve, you can make an argument for being more remote and
move to another state."
In his talk to the Society of Internet Professionals, Woodbridge referred
to the Technology Fast 50 list compiled by Deloitte & Touche, based
on revenue growth from 1996 to 2000, and printed in the NJBiz 2002
book of lists. Woodbridge counts half of these companies as being
in Central Jersey, including Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, and Eatontown.
Half of that group — 11 companies — are in the Princeton area
covered by U.S. 1. But as Woodbridge pointed out, statistics can be
deceiving. The downturn started in 2000 just when Deloitte & Touche’s
survey ended. It played havoc with 30 percent of the formerly fast
growing Princeton companies. These four — Novasoft Information
Technology, Hexaware Technologies, RCN, and Princeton Video Image
— are either floundering now or their growth has been severely
Move away from the cosmetic flash and towards supporting the small
high tech start ups, by making it attractive as a high tech state
— that’s Woodbridge’s advice to New Jersey. He wants the state
to support his effort to put together a Route 1 corridor commission
and come up with a marketable moniker comparable to Silicon Valley.
"It’s time for New Jersey to wake up and smell the electrons."
Box 592, Princeton 08542-0592. Richard Woodbridge, president. 609-924-3773;
fax, 609-924-1811. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Home page: njiplaw.com
Adam Pechter, CEO of Prosperity New Jersey and
COO of the New Jersey Commerce and Economic Growth Commission, emphasizes
that New Jersey’s riches include 75 percent of the world’s top pharmaceutical
companies’ headquarters. He suggests that the state has failed to
build upon its pharmaceutical strength in a cohesive, proactive fashion.
A public relations campaign can’t fix this, he says, in an apparent
reference to his predecessor’s campaign and Innovation GardenState
website, nor can spending more money. "This is not a matter of
money — it is a question of leadership, focus and commitment.
We must do more with what we have. This is the new charge of Prosperity
NJ," Pechter said in a speech last fall.
Pechter’s organization functions as a think tank for the McGreevey
administration and the commerce commission. It aims to find ways to
grow the revenue base, develop workforce skills, and create jobs.
In a speech last fall Pechter had rank-ordered his areas of interest:
Porter, the Harvard-based author of "The Competitive Advantage
of Nations," is known for his research on how competition is affected
by geographically concentrated clusters. Governor McGreevey met Porter
at the national governors’ conference in August. Porter is being paid
$250,000 to analyze the state’s cluster of pharmaceutical, medical
technology and biotechnology companies and develop an action plan
to improve the state’s competitive advantage. Helping foot the bill
for this are two of the state’s major trade groups, Healthcare Institute
of New Jersey (about a dozen of the biggest pharmas) and Biotechnology
Council of New Jersey (the smaller biotechs). Porter will present
his study at a board meeting of Prosperity New Jersey on Friday, February
dishes that will return New Jersey to dominance in innovation."
Pechter enlisted Princeton University’s president Shirley Tilghman
to co-chair Prosperity New Jersey.
insurance industry in north Jersey as an "economic engine focused
on information and data management" requiring north Jersey improvements
in transportation and education.
the distribution centers such as those now flourishing at Exit8A,
for instance would involve dredging the harbor, expanding Newark Airport,
upgrading Route 1, and building a another rail tunnel to Manhattan.
In a recent telephone interview Pechter emphasized why setting priorities
is so important. The Whitman administration had allocated $2.5 million
to his department, and corporate contributions doubled that. But Pechter’s
current budget is just $550,000.
"It’s not just about money," Pechter says. "The `old’
Prosperity New Jersey had become a branding entity. We looked at the
Innovation Garden State campaign, and it wasn’t getting results. The
big contributors to it weren’t happy. When you spend public money,
you have to have measurables, and you have to be focused."
"It is unclear when the telecommunications firms are going to
see the light at the end of the tunnel," says Pechter, explaining
why he isn’t trying to promote telecommunications right now. "With
limited resources, it is really important to prioritize and build
on our strength. There isn’t anything Prosperity New Jersey can do
until the phone companies start buying equipment for the networks."
"We have to tap the strengths that makes us unique," says
Pechter. "No other state has 75 percent of the top pharmaceutical
"And with the government facing fiscal restraints," says Pechter,
"I would rather go to a J&J or a Merck and ask for funds for a
mentor program for a local high school then for a branding campaign."
In a speech for the Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce on January
9, Pechter emphasized the need to improve education by changing the
paradigm, by establishing "an innovation triangle of partnerships
between the private sector, the university community, and the state."
"New Jersey has one of the best educational infrastructures in
America. And we’re home to some of the greatest companies in the world.
However, these communities haven’t been communicating well with one
"To address this challenge, we asked Shirley Tilghman, president
of Princeton University, and Bill Weldon, chairman of Johnson & Johnson,
to chair our board. To have the president of Princeton and the chairman
of J&J bridge the communications gap makes a big difference."
The results, as he cites them, include the new "Career Academies,"
high schools where students are exposed to better facilities, technology,
and mentoring relationships and internships. One academy connects
PSE&G with Trenton High School.
He also cites the state’s participation in the Nanotechnology Research
Center at Bell Labs (U.S. 1, October 16, 2002). "Many states are
scrambling to put together similar facilities, costing tens of millions
of dollars. We already have this facility. And our hope is that it
will become a job creation engine over the next decade."
820, Trenton 08625-0828. Adam Pechter, CEO. 609-292-3685; fax, 609-984-4920.
Home page: www.state.nj.us/prosperity/
The New Jersey Business & Industry Association hopes
to encourage business expansion and job creation in 2003, says Philip
Kirschner, executive vice president. Kirschner reports that although
employers as a group are feeling more optimistic about their business
prospects, they are feeling less sanguine about the state’s political
In response to NJBIA’s 2003 Business Outlook Survey, employers gave
the governor and the legislature an approval rating of only 11 percent.
Yet the same survey found that employers are optimistic for the first
time in several years.
Thirty-six percent of respondents to the NJBIA survey, conducted in
September 2002, said they expected conditions to improve in the first
six months of 2003, versus only 23 percent who expected conditions
to worsen and 41 percent who expected conditions to stay essentially
Last year more were pessimistic than optimistic. All major sectors
were positive except retail and construction, which were basically
The employment outlook, however, is the second worst in nine years.
Only 24 percent of respondents expected to add jobs this year, while
10 percent anticipated cutbacks and 66 percent expected no change.
Corrections or additions?
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