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RUTHERFORD, NJ-Conventional wisdom is that New Jersey has been losing manufacturing jobs, and that W/D is the sole stellar performer among industrial sectors. But a new work force development study belies that notion for the Meadowlands region, although it concedes that more future job growth is likely to occur in travel and tourism-related fields. A first-ever report of its kind, the study’s findings have substantial implications for the real estate industry.

The findings come from “A Profile of the Meadowlands Regional Economy and Workforce,” the result of a three-month study by a consortium of state and local groups and agencies led by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. The net result is that manufacturing remains the largest job sector in the region, with 15% of the work force, and the report projects that will hold steady even as manufacturing jobs continue to decline statewide.

“Despite that we might be encouraged by growth in other areas, manufacturers have not given up on us, and we are going to give up on them,” says Jim Kirkos, president of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, which participated in the study. “As important as it is to understand how we work in the Meadowlands, it is even more critical that we know how we will work in the future.”

And besides the stability in the manufacturing sector, the study does emphasize the fact that employment in business management positions and the travel and tourism field grew by more than 10% between 2002 and 2005. That’s ahead of the state’s growth rate, and it’s likely to accelerate.

“Driven by Meadowlands Xanadu, Encap Golf, the new Giants/Jets stadium and other development, the travel industry promises to be an enduring component of the Meadowlands workforce,” Kirkos says. “The Meadowland Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau, a strategic initiative of the chamber, expects to become an integral training resource to the growing work force in this sector, as well as maintaining its role as a promoter and advocate of the region’s destination businesses.”

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