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JERSEY CITY-Against the backdrop of a struggling financial sector, Lehman Bros. has been mulling about what to do with its regional workforce, and the State of New Jersey has put a pile of money on the table to help the financial services giant make a decision. The New Jersey EDA has approved a Business Employment Incentive Program grant to Lehman worth $19.6 million.

BEIP grants tied to job creation and relocation can be awarded for up to 10 years and can range from 10% to 80% of the total state income taxes withheld by the company during the calendar year from the salaries of the affected jobs. The package offered to Lehman involves a 10-year term at 80%; at stake are 400 jobs that would be relocated across the Hudson River here from Manhattan, and 100 newly created positions.

The jobs that would be relocated are said to be mostly of the information tech variety. Lehman already has a major presence here, where rents for comparable but newer space are about half of what they are in Manhattan. The company’s primary local locations are 101 Hudson St. and 70 Hudson St., and including satellite offices in Cranford and Florham Park, Lehman already employs about 1,700 in the Garden State.

“We would eagerly welcome the addition of 500 more jobs,” says NJ EDA CEO Caren Franzini, in a statement. “This would be a tremendous increase of employment by Lehman Bros.” A spokesman for Lehman Bros. declined to comment.

If Lehman accepts the package, it would mark the fifth time since 2002 that the company has gotten tax breaks from the state. It’s also the second time in recent weeks that Lehman has gotten some help from the state: In June, the company got a cash infusion of $180 million when the state’s pension fund bought that amount of Lehman stock.

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