Last evening, the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) hosted its 2021 Employer Legislative Committee Reception at the Forsgate Country Club in Monroe. The reception is traditionally the first major business event that follows the June primaries, and offers the Democratic and Republican nominees a chance to connect with the electorate.
In the event’s first hour, GOP candidate Jack Ciattarelli made the rounds through the crowd of around 200 people, shaking hands and chatting, before heading to another event. He answered questions interview-style which was presented via video to those in attendance. (Editor’s Note: A story on Ciattarelli’s remarks can be found here).
The event’s second hour featured Gov. Phil Murphy, who addressed the crowd with a speech in which he talked about numerous areas of investment, as well as business issues including relief for small businesses suffering the effects of the pandemic.
“Through our partnership with the Legislature we ensured that the federal relief that we received went right to the small business that needed it most,” Murphy said. “But we understand that more is needed to ensure that our Main Streets remain healthy and viable as we look to recover from the pandemic.”
In addition to a $235 million small business relief package that the governor signed yesterday, Murphy said that through budget investments, an additional $200 million will go toward direct grants, loans, loan guarantees and other tools to help more small businesses.
“If you add up all the money we have put towards small businesses since the beginning of the pandemic, it borders on $1 billion,” he said.
“When I spoke with you four years ago, I called for nothing less than a reimagining of what our state, economy and workforce could look like,” Murphy continued. “I said then and I’ll say now, when we get New Jersey’s economy right, we get New Jersey right.”
He then highlighted an array of investments that have been, or are being made, in education, infrastructure, clean energy, and workforce development, and lauded the state’s incentive programs, such as the New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund, for example, which pairs state resources with private venture capital investments in New Jersey-based startups.
“All of this taken together will propel New Jersey as the global center for innovative new businesses working at the leading edge of the future economy,” he said.
Murphy also touched on the pandemic, painting his handling of it and the state’s ongoing recovery as a positive.
“Thanks to our collective efforts, COVID-19 is in retreat and in true Jersey style, we’ve dropped the hammer on this virus,” he said. “After the last economic downturn, the shortsighted and failed old way of doing things led us to one of the slowest recoveries in any state in America. I share with every person in this room a vision for a very different end result from the pandemic, which is a nation leading recovery this time.
“New Jersey today is a vastly better place for countless families and businesses, and we won’t go back to the old way of doing things,” he added.
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