Middlesex Chamber Hosts “Make It & Move It Middlesex” With Sen. Greenstein and Thompson

Policy Discussion Emphasized Transportation, Economic Development, Manufacturing & More

On November 29, the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce launched a new series, Make It & Move It Middlesex, at Silver Line by Andersen in North Brunswick, NJ.

State Senators Linda Greenstein and Samual Thompson will led the discussion that touched on various policy areas, including transportation, economic development, manufacturing and more.

Both Greenstein and Thompson emphasized the importance of bolstering the state's mass transit infrastructure.

"Middlesex County is the hub of manufacturing in the state and transportation is a big part of that," Greenstein said. "But we need to improve our transportation infrastructure because people want to take certain jobs but we just don’t have a way to get there.

"It's particularly tragic when people can only get to work with a car," she added.

Both legislators said Middlesex County must lobby for an increased share of funds from the Transportation Trust Fund, the revenue source intended for transportation infrastructure improvements and capitalized by the state's gas tax.

Thompson added that as the state increases infrastructure investment, it should take the opportunity to create a friendlier environment for electric vehicles, including installing more charging stations.

"We need to have charging stations and encourage the use of electric cars," he said.

Moderator Bert Baron of WCTC 1450-AM noted the state's natural assets, including access to New York City and Philadelphia, a diverse housing stock, and good public schools. Both Greenstein and Thompson said the state needs to better showcase its wares in order to attract businesses. Specifically, Greenstein lauded the process by which cities are lobbying Amazon for a new corporate headquarters.

"These proposals are exactly how we should be touting ourselves as a state," she said. "They emphasize new investment in transit, supplying diverse workforce housing, access to colleges and universities, and quality K-12 schools. It's a model for how we should be pursuing businesses."

The resources the state provides are also critical to businesses landing on their feet in Central Jersey as well.

"We’re looking at tax incentive programs and making sure that venture capital is available. We are strengthening linkages beteween manufacturers and universities as well," Greenstein said. "But we have only 15 incubators in NJ – New York City has 10 times that."

While the two senators largely agreed on substance, there emerged a philosophical difference when it comes to the level of investment state government must make and the level which state government must withdraw from the equation.

Greenstein, a Democrat, noted that small businesses "are the backbone of New Jersey.

"Anything we can do to have a place where people know they can get advice and resources is powerful. We need to have a focus on state government meeting the concerns of businesses. It’s our job to try to solve them.

Thompson, a Republican, said the cost of doing business in New Jersey had to be included: "We need to work on how to reduce expenses and get the most bang for our buck."

Make It & Move It continues the momentum gained in the September 2017 Middlesex County Business Summit, where attendees were able to navigate the many business resources provided by Middlesex County.

“At its core, the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce serves as a conduit to local, county, and statewide resources to make sure our Central Jersey business community thrives,” said Lina Llona, President, MCRCC & Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Make It & Move It Middlesex series will host events through April 2018.