New Jersey’s new Lt. Governor Tahesha L. Way made her first public policy speech today at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s (NJBIA) 9th Annual New Jersey Women Business Leaders Forum, where she discussed the efforts of the Murphy administration in creating “the next New Jersey.”
Speaking during the first day of the two-day event held at the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott, Way discussed the condition the state was in prior to Gov. Phil Murphy taking office six years ago.
She said that New Jersey was one of the last states to emerge from the Great Recession because of poor leadership. “Our finances were in disarray, resulting in 11 credit downgrades from Wall Street’s major credit-rating agencies,” Way pointed out.
Touting the state’s seven credit rating upgrades in the last year and a half, the Lt. Governor said that New Jersey is “becoming the state of opportunity for all.”
Way has been with the Murphy administration since the governor first took office, serving as Secretary of State, a position she still holds. She said she is proud to be a partner in a journey in which, “We are confidently moving in the right direction toward building what Gov. Murphy likes to refer to as the next New Jersey. A state with greater possibilities, that is more affordable for families … with more businesses, industries, jobs, and careers that did not exist in our state just a few years ago.”
Touching upon billions of dollars in property tax relief that the state is providing through efforts such as the ANCHOR program, the record funding in education, and billions of state and federal money being invested in infrastructure, including transportation, clean energy and overall innovation, Way said the governor’s economic strategy can be boiled down into three simple parts: Investing in towns and emerging industries; rebuilding the aged infrastructure; and attracting the world’s top minds.
Among the efforts that fall under these strategy points, Way highlighted Golden Seeds, a national network of early-stage investors who seek to invest in women-led companies. Through the efforts of First Lady Tammy Murphy, Way said New Jersey was the first state in the nation to establish a statewide chapter of Golden Seeds, which has already invested more than $9 million in women-owned businesses.
Way then pointed to the New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund, a New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) program that is “driving meaningful investment dollars to high growth businesses in the state through collaborations with already established corporations, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.”
Additionally, she mentioned $20 million in state funding to establish the Black and Latino Seed Fund, the only investment fund across the country aimed to increase capital access for early-stage innovative companies founded by diverse entrepreneurs throughout the state.
Way also highlighted the new industries the Murphy administration is trying to attract and create in the state, including clean energy – such as offshore wind power – and the film industry.
Regarding offshore wind, she said South Jersey is being positioned as the home of the state’s clean energy future. “We are already [creating] hundreds of manufacturing and construction jobs, and tens of thousands of potential jobs are on the way as phase 1 of first wind port in the entire country is on its way to completion,” Way said, referring to the New Jersey Wind Port in Lower Alloways Creek, Salem County.
Way also discussed the state’s growing film industry, which reported more than $650 million in revenues last year. She pointed to major studio investments in the state, such as Netflix and Lionsgate, to name a few. Commenting on industry growth, Way said, “New Jersey, over the next several years, will rival Hollywood as the country’s filmmaking capital.”
Among the various panel discussions and Ted-style talks at today’s WBLF, five college students were presented with Rising Star Awards, which identifies future business leaders currently completing their undergraduate education who have demonstrated leadership, a passion for their anticipated field, and a commitment to volunteering/community involvement.
The honorees included: Chavonne Brown, of Berkeley College; Andrew Clark, of Ramapo College; Arianna Gehan, of Stevens Institute of Technology; Liangy Gomerez, of Bergen Community College; and Tania Mottos, of Berkeley College.
Meanwhile, Celest Quintana, a self-made entrepreneur of 10 McDonald’s franchises whose North Jersey restaurants also provide for people in need, was honored with the Caren Franzini Leadership Award.
Sally Glick, business development advisor and ambassador with CliftonLarsonAllen, was honored with the Legacy & Leadership Award in recognition of her business achievements, mentorship of women in business and years of public service.
NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka kicked off the two-day WBLF by telling the audience of some 450 attendees, the majority of whom were women, that the next 24 hours is all about “reaching in, reaching up, and unleashing the inner leader in each of us.” When she asked the audience members if they were up to the task, a wave of energetic applause filled the room.
More news on the 9th annual WBLF will appear in tomorrow’s NJBT.
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