Those panelists were David Cohen, regional director of theNortheast for GE Real Estate; Mitchell Hersh, president and CEO ofMack-Cali Realty Corp.; Charles Klatskin, managingdirector-industrial for Jones Lang LaSalle; Ray Sohmer, seniormanaging director of CB Richard Ellis; and Peter Sudler, presidentof Sudler Management Corp. The discussion was moderated by EricPeterson, editor of Real Estate New Jersey.

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Asked how New Jersey is coping with current conditions, Sudlerremarked bluntly, "the credit markets have gone to hell in ahandbasket. The office market is horrendous. The industrial marketis nothing to write home about. And retail is going to be disaster.While his company has had success in the data recovery market, "nowthat has gone off the page," Sudler said. "Right now everything ison hold. I don't see the bright light."

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Hersh agreed that, "we are in the throes of a very significanteconomic downturn. There is no question this going to be a long,protracted period of first intermediation, then a rebuilding of oureconomy." He added that government intervention will help restoreconfidence, "but this problem is very serious and will take a longtime to fix."

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"This will pass, but we don't know how long it will take," addedKlatskin, who advised the audience to, "Batten down the hatches."One way to generate business in the state: "Get rid of our Governorand legislators--the whole ball of wax," Klatskin said.

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New Jersey has taken a hit in the business image departmentbefore, but being critical of the state is not the way to go, saidCarl Goldberg, principal of Roseland Property Co. and chairman ofthe New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, later on in theprogram. In a one-on-one discussion with Michael Desiato, IncisiveMedia's group publisher, Goldberg said, "to successfully retain andrelocate businesses to New Jersey we have to be advocates for thestate."

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Specifically, he pointed to Gov. Corzine's efforts to keepinvestment firm BlackRock from moving 1,200 employees toPennsylvania. "The government has the obligation to createincentives, but we as leaders of the real estate community have theobligation to be there side-by-side with the Governor."

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To increase business attraction, the government needs to addressthe housing affordability problem, asserted Goldberg, adding thatthe state needs to offer a "wide diversity of price points to housemiddle-level management." He claimed that recent legislationcreating more affordable housing opportunities "makes no commitmentfor creating housing for the population that earns 120% to 140% ofthe median income. "We have to figure out a way to house thatsegment or we'll never attract that business to the state."

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Goldberg pointed to one bright spot among the doom-and-gloom:Redevelopment activity at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, which isoperated by the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority. Henoted that 1,800 construction people are "gainfully employed" atbuilding the Xanadu retail/entertainment complex, the newGiants/Jets stadium and a new rail station,

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"Over the past three years, the New Jersey Sports and ExpositionAuthority has sponsored more than $4 billion of new construction inNorthern New Jersey," he noted. "One of the fundamental obligationsof a state agency like the Sports Authority is to be an economicengine for the region. I would put forth that the Sports Authorityhas fulfilled that obligation, and continues to fulfill thatobligation."

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