WHICH PART OF NEW JERSEY WILL SEE THE MOSTGROWTH?

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New Jersey has its problems, but it also has a lot ofadvantages that make it a popular place for businesses to be. So,despite the sagging economy, some growth is expected. The questionis, which part of the state will attract the most growth? Thisweek's poll respondents were split almost evenly. Equal numbers(36%) anticipate growth in the Northern and Central parts of thestate. Slightly fewer (27%) think South Jersey will see the mostgrowth. Dianne Brake, president of PlanSmart New Jersey, expects tosee growth all over the state, but she has high hopes for thenorth. Here are her thoughts:

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"There's the most growth and then there's important growth. InNorthern New Jersey, which already holds about 70% of New Jersey'spopulation, growth would be driven by the strength of New YorkCity's economy and the desire to be near the financial hub of thewestern world. So, as long as New York stays strong, North Jerseywill be attractive.

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"Central New Jersey attracts a great deal of interest because ofthe cluster of educated workforce around the pharmaceuticalsindustry. That creates a buzz around the technology center of NewJersey, which also houses Princeton University and the Northeastcorridor rail line. Those are all drivers in Central NewJersey.

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"And in South Jersey there is the opportunity that comes withopen land. A lot of attention has gone there because it has theland and drivers such as the airport, the tourism industry, theshore, the quality of life. Constraining that growth on the otherhand is infrastructure, attitudes, government regulation andcritical habitats that need to be protected.

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"So, all of the areas of New Jersey have the potential forgrowth, although it might not be explosive growth. For instance, Ispoke recently with a woman from Einstein's Alley [a forum aimed atcreating jobs and stimulating innovation and economic developmentin Central New Jersey]. She said they're not aiming for bigcompanies, they're dealing with small companies with a lot to offerthat could make this a more desirable place to locate. That's veryimportant growth, but it's not exponential growth.

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"Major growth could come in North Jersey, and when we say NorthJersey, we're thinking of the economic engines in Newark andHoboken. What you don't want to see in North Jersey is decline. Youhave to think of how to add growth to an already built-up,congested area, and build up and add growth in such a way thatyou're filling in spaces and making spaces more functional. Inother words, adding to the transit potential and so forth. Thosewould be positive steps to take as North Jersey grows.

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"Jersey City has had a lot of success recently, and in Newarkthere's a lot of expectation on the mayor to drive interest anddrive growth. Up north, you have the financial institutions,telecommunications and the port. The port is the number oneeconomic driver in New Jersey. In the North, sprawl is contained bythe Highlands, which are protected, and that makes redevelopment ofolder buildings and spaces more attractive.

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"Each region has its own strengths and benefits. We've beenlooking at regions for all kinds of growth potential, theirconstraints, their need for infrastructure investment. And how yousustain growth and balance it with other needs is what quality oflife is all about."

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