NaiopPublic Policy Symposium

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The panel's moderator, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, set the tonewhen he declared that New Jersey was "in danger of becoming a taleof two states," a reference to disparate wealth and poverty. "Weare in a position to show the world that we can create the AmericanDream, completing the task of creating wealth and doing good."Ultimately, Booker said, the issue is one of, "not making thecities wards of the state, but growth engines."

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As to the goal of creating jobs, Gary Rose, chief of theGovernor's Office of Economic Development, told attendees that "theurban strategy is big in the governor's economic development plan."Explaining that his office works in concert with other stateagencies, he added that, "this is not a cookie-cutter business.'One size' does not fit all. We go to each city, from project toproject, to develop a plan."

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When addressing environmental issues vis-à-vis the task ofcreating growth, "New Jersey is uniquely positioned to take thelead in creating 'green' jobs," said Lisa Jackson, commissioner ofthe New Jersey DEP. "The state is small, compact, it has brainpower and a historic ethic toward green."

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And in terms of actual development, "brownfield sites are jobs,"she reminded attendees. "We spend a lot of time on that," she said,referring to various state programs that have been enacted with theaim of making it easier to get such derelict sites cleaned andredeveloped.

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From the perspective of Joseph Doria, commissioner of theDepartment of Community Affairs, "the emphasis is on creatinghouses and retail in the cities." He cited advances in cities likeNewark and Long Branch as examples. And beyond that, "we have tohave housing on all levels for workers," he said, referringspecifically to the need for more affordable housing. Doria alsopointed to the recent public-private sector initiative inNewark to deliver housing to enable people who work there to alsolive there.

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One of the key advantages for the cities of New Jersey has beentheir location and transportation infrastructure, and while thatremains the case, New Jersey DOT commissioner Kris Kolluricautioned that "this is a difficult time for transportationinvestment." The infrastructure is aging and in need of repairsand, "the Transportation Trust Fund will run out of money in 2011.And without money in the fund, we will lose federal dollars."

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All of which provided a segue to the governor's subsequentremarks at theevent. Reminding attendees that the state is in financial crisis,and that "the transportation system is aging and can't generate therevenue needed," Kolluri termed Corzine's toll hike plan "bold" and"unprecedented. We need to get rid of debt in order to give theprivate sector more tools to generate jobs and grow the economy,"Kolluri said.

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And tying the transportation and urban economic developmentissues together even more closely, Booker lauded the state's recent$75-milliontransit hub initiative, which offers tax credits to companiesdeveloping or locating near nine major transportation centers. Hetermed it "one of the great accomplishments" of Gary Rose'stenure.

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"Job one is making things happen in each of the nine cities,"Rose said. He emphasized that, "there is no front-end investment bythe state," a reference to the fact that the state remainscash-strapped.

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Jackson stressed the importance of "making the regulatoryframework follow the incentive framework." And Doria concluded, "Weneed to incentivize the areas targeted for growth" as part of a newstate plan that's being drafted. "There also needs to becooperation between the departments of government. If we don't worktogether, we won't succeed."

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