NJ Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken (left) and Board Member Ted Zangari discuss business retention and recruitment with Tracye McDaniel, president and CEO of Choose New Jersey; Caren Franzini, CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, and Linda Kellner, acting executive director of the state’s Business Action Center.

(Courtesy of NJ Chamber of Commerce) The three women executives who are helping spearhead economic growth in New Jersey told a group of State Chamber of Commerce members on Friday that now is a perfect time for the Garden State’s economy to skyrocket – in terms of both business growth and reputation.

Tracye McDaniel, president and CEO of Choose New Jersey; Linda Kellner, acting executive director of the state’s Business Action Center; and Caren Franzini, CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority told about 40 attendees at the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Summit in Monroe that the reasons for their optimism are a pro-growth governor in the statehouse, a tireless business advocate as lieutenant governor and the coordinated work of their three agencies.

Choose New Jersey handles marketing and generating business expansion leads. The Business Action Center is responsible for helping companies steer through the government maze. And the New Jersey Economic Development Authority offers growing companies finance assistance, tax credits and incentives.

The women said they have already had crucial “wins” in the past year with either the relocation or expansion of companies like Bayer, Campbell’s, MX Solar and Panasonic.

“It’s a team approach and we are organized to make sure we are not stepping on each other’s toes,” Franzini said. “What’s nice is we all like each other,” Franzini added about her fellow panelists. “There are no egos that get in the way.” The three women meet every Thursday morning with Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno “to raise ideas and discuss concerns that business owners have raised,” Kellner said.

In fact, McDaniel, who recently moved from Houston to take the lead at Choose New Jersey, said she would not have relocated here if she didn’t believe this was a strong team. “You don’t get to where I am in life by making wild, crazy moves unnecessarily,” she said. “New Jersey means business.” Her agency, Choose New Jersey, was established recently with $ 7 million in seed money from the private sector.

Its work includes:

  • A kick-off event in March at the NCAA Tournament basketball games held at the Prudential Center in Newark, attended by location advisors representing the potential of 8,800 jobs and $1.7 billion in capital investment for New Jersey.
  • A domestic and international marketing and lead-generation campaign to “position New Jersey as a world class economic leader,” McDaniel said.
  • An economic development study to understand the existing conditions of New Jersey’s business climate and to benchmark the state’s economic competiveness with other states.
  • The commission of a perception study asking in- and out-of-state CEOs – as well as top location advisors – to name New Jersey’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Co-hosting an event at the BIO International Convention to showcase New Jersey’s “rock star” scientists.
  • A “business retention event” at the NBA Draft in Newark on June 23 to honor the businesses that are staying in New Jersey.

Meanwhile, the Business Action Center, developed under the Christie administration, deigned to help companies steer through the government maze, has counseled 427 business and 60 exporters. It has assisted 32,764 customers through its call center and has hosted 23 foreign trade delegations.

In July it has 200 representatives from Chinese companies who are looking to do business in New Jersey, Kellner said. “We want to match them with New Jersey companies so they can do business together,” she added.

The NJEDA this year has offered financial assistance to 377 companies in the form of $567.3 million in financing assistance credits and incentives, Franzini said.

“This is a team effort and we need your help,” Franzini said to State Chamber members. “We need the business community to support us. We need to work together and not talk about what’s wrong with New Jersey, but recognize the positives. Join us to tell the story of New Jersey.”