Why (and How) Companies Move to New Jersey

The Garden State has an array of outstanding attributes, and the State’s Partnership for Action is leveraging them to entice companies to relocate here.

For all the everyday complaints about New Jersey’s high taxes and stringent regulatory environment, major companies move here for an array of positive reasons, including, but not limited to: the Garden State’s highly educated workforce, access to Manhattan’s capital/financial markets, the state’s international airports and seaports, a high quality of life for themselves and their employees, and a robust transportation network. Additionally, industry clusters in biopharmaceuticals, healthcare, logistics/distribution, financial services, technology and advanced manufacturing all exist in New Jersey, permitting access to specially-trained labor markets and niche professional services (law firms, accounting firms, etc.), for firms in these fields.

Perhaps New Jerseyans often forget that most of the United States – and the indeed the world – lacks the above admirable assets.

Even when a person focuses strictly on northern New Jersey’s “Gold Coast” (immediately west of Manhattan), business advantages are readily apparent: highly-trained Millennial Generation employees are available in this local labor market, as is commercial office space which is significantly less expensive when compared to lease rates in Manhattan.

What is an example of a “Gold Coast” relocation success story? This past May, Newell Brands, the creator of Sharpie permanent markers and Rubbermaid products, relocated its headquarters from Atlanta to Hoboken for access to the aforementioned high-quality labor market.

Fiona Laird, chief human resources and communications officer at Newell Brands, tells New Jersey Business, “We are delighted to establish our new global headquarters in Hoboken.  Following our acquisition of Jarden Corporation earlier this year, our company has tripled in size, and Hoboken gives us tremendous access to the talent we need to drive future growth and innovation across a much larger portfolio of leading consumer brands.  Specifically, Hoboken will serve as an important hub for our executive team as well as for certain enterprise-wide functions such as our global e-Commerce team, our advanced design team, and our Transformation Office.  Over time, we plan to bring approximately 250 to 300 jobs to our Hoboken office.” (Tied to the creation of these jobs, Newell Brands was awarded $27 million in tax incentives via the New Jersey Economic Development Authority).

The Partnership for Action

While tax incentives alone are not enough to lure companies here (the state’s many qualities must have intrinsic merit), New Jersey’s Partnership for Action (PFA) has been crucial in alerting out-of-state companies to the Garden State’s positive attributes and also removing any obstacles to relocations.

Formed by the Christie Administration in 2010, the PFA is comprised of: Choose New Jersey (which aims to attract business to – and retain businesses in – the state); the New Jersey Business Action Center (which can address almost every imaginable concern a business may have); the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (which can help provide financial incentives); and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education.

Michele Brown, president and CEO of Choose New Jersey, explains the overall attraction process: “Once we [at Choose New Jersey] know that a company is interested in the state of New Jersey, we may begin by sending them information about New Jersey or about our workforce.  Or, we may meet them at one of the many events that we [partake] in. As soon as we know that it’s a real project – meaning that the company is making a location decision in the next 6 to 36 months – we will then bring in the Business Action Center, which serves as a liaison between the company and state government. BAC will not only prepare a formal letter outlining all of the different benefits that are available (should the company make a decision to locate in New Jersey), but BAC will also help the company work through whatever regulatory issues it may have.”

Brown notes that if the company decides to relocate to New Jersey and is interested in applying for any state assistance, the New Jersey EDA then becomes involved, assisting the company not only with the application process, but also helping it with final location decisions.

Brown adds, “It is fair to say that with virtually every large project that’s come through the state of New Jersey in past several years, all three of these organizations (Choose NJ; BAC; EDA) have been working hand-in-hand, together.”

Overcoming New Jersey Stereotypes

For the unacquainted, numerous false stereotypes may surround New Jersey, ranging from those associated with HBO’s fictional organized crime drama series “The Sopranos” and the reality television show “Jersey Shore” (featuring rowdy individuals), to the heavy industry surrounding the northern section of the New Jersey Turnpike (which leaves many travelers displeased when they traverse the state via car).

However, the state is of course home to: Princeton University, one of the world’s finest educational institutions; more than 350 biotechnology firms (and their educated employees); and, above all, New Jersey is known as “The Garden State” for a reason: It has thousands of acres of farmland and open space.

Overall, New Jersey offers what any prospective resident might desire: a wide array of houses of worship; any type of high-quality restaurant cuisine; trendy urban areas such as Hoboken or Jersey City; and 127 miles of sandy beaches; professional sports venues; and acclaimed theaters.

When out-of-state C-Suite leaders transcend the stereotypes and learn the truth about New Jersey, the results can be especially appealing. As Choose New Jersey’s Brown explains, “My daughter lives in Minnesota now, with her husband and my grandson.  She’s 30 minutes away from a local grocery store.  Within a 15-minute drive of where I live [in New Jersey], [I] have access to: a dozen different grocery stores; 50 different restaurants; theater; opera; dance; concerts – and just about anything you could possibly want from a cultural standpoint.”

Brown adds that Newark Liberty International Airport offers nonstop flights to 130 countries (now including Cuba), a train from Newark permits easy access to Washington, D.C., and Amtrak offers rapid service to Boston.

She says, “It is the access to transportation, the extraordinary beauty of the state of New Jersey, and the quality of life that you can have, here, [that make New Jersey attractive]. Not only can you get a great education for your children, but there are great jobs available for businesses coming from overseas. Also, our extraordinary diversity lends a particular richness to life in our state.”

Key Drivers for Business

While New Jersey may be attractive in the above ways, it is the state’s labor market and location which are the top two relocation-driving factors, according to Brown.  She says, “We know that companies are always driven by workforce, and, so, for us, it is a combination of workforce and location. Depending on the type of company/industry we are trying to attract, those two principle factors – workforce and location – have different weights.  But, both of them always come into play with every business location decision.”

Companies in the life sciences arena, for example, may be attracted more to the state’s workforce, while logistics and distribution firms are typically driven more by location. The latter point is particularly true given the changing nature of e-commerce, with its ascension of same-day delivery. Of note, there is a 22-million-strong customer base within a two-hour drive of central New Jersey, making this region a center for logistics and distribution.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority

As mentioned, when a company makes a relocation decision, the New Jersey EDA can assist. Melissa Orsen, the EDA’s CEO, says, “The EDA’s role in attracting and retaining businesses is to administer financial resources that might help a company of any size bridge a financing gap, or perhaps make a project more financially viable in New Jersey than in another state. Those resources include tax incentives, loans – either direct from the EDA or through a banking partner – and bonds for manufacturers or not-for-profit entities.”

She adds, “Given the increasingly competitive marketplace, Governor Chris Christie signed the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA) in 2013, providing the state with a new and improved tax incentive tool kit. As the state’s financing arm, the EDA has been charged with administering the programs advanced under the Act.”

The EDA states that since the enactment of the EOA in 2013, the Grow NJ Program has helped to attract more than $3.5 billion in private investment to the state. These projects are expected to result in the creation of more than 27,400 new jobs, and the retention of more than 26,500 jobs at risk of leaving the state.


Since the state’s workforce and location – combined with the Partnership for Action’s ongoing efforts – have been a boon for attracting companies to the state, relocation success stories are abundant: Royal Bank of Canada, J.P. Morgan Chase, EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young), Charles Komar & Sons, Amazon and Allergan have all moved operations into New Jersey in recent years, and collaborated with the Partnership for Action.

Echoing sentiments often heard in the state, Newell Brands’ Fiona Laird says, “Establishing our new headquarters in Hoboken is a symbol of our bright future and we look forward to being an engaged and productive member of the community for many years to come.”

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