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TRENTON-As the keynoter at yesterday’s RealShare New Jersey conference, Gov. Jon Corzine’s new economic development chief, Jerold Zaro, previewed a slew of initiatives aimed at helping businesses and homeowners in New Jersey, set to be offered up by the administration. Later that day, Gov. Corzine spelled out those initiatives in greater detail.

“Today we squarely face one of the greatest challenges any of us will ever confront in our public lives,” Corzine said, addressing a special joint session of the legislature. “Our state, and this nation, are in the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

“The proposed plan addresses four broad concerns,” Corzine said. “First, it provides assistance to those in greatest need. Second, it directly supports short-term employment and economic activity. Third, it works to enhance the state’s business climate and economic development. Finally, it addresses our obligation to remain fiscally responsible.”

Key elements of Corzine’s plan include $500 million worth of state and pension fund investments to help the state’s banks provide loans for businesses. That number is actually an increase from the $250 million indicated during Zaro’s RealShare New Jersey keynote address.

The plan would also offer companies with between five and 500 employees a $3,000 cash award for each new full-time job they create, and those jobs would have to be maintained for at least a year. Other elements include a commitment of $40 million to buoy homeowners in danger of foreclosure; provide assistance for the elderly and poor in paying their energy costs and taxes; and speed up a number of public projects as a means of generating jobs in the construction industry.

Corzine projected that direct cash costs to the state for the various proposals would be in the $150-million, with the rest coming from state cash-management and pension fund investments. “It will be tough to pay for these proposals in the context of declining revenues in this recessionary period,” he conceded. “Tough, yes. Do-able? Yes.”

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