The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) unveiled their regional economic growth plan at a Jan. 10 meeting at their headquarters in Lyndhurst.
NJMC Chairwoman Susan Bass Levin, who also serves in Gov. Jon Corzine's cabinet as the Department of Community Affairs Commissioner, spoke about what she hopes the plan will achieve.
"This economic plan ... will continue to demonstrate that economic development and environmental protection can coexist in the Meadowlands," she said. "Our goal is to promote solid economic development, to ensure that we have a well-trained work force, and to recognize our mandate to preserve and protect our natural environment."
Plan ready to go
The 2007 plan, which outlines an economic agenda for the 14-municipality district, attempts to use some of the policy prerogatives discussed at the Sept. 2006 Meadowlands Economic Conference and Summit, also held at NJMC headquarters.
The report makes five recommendations that purport to foster economic growth in the district for the next 12 months, involving workforce growth, infrastructure, and coordination.
To realize these recommendations, the report advocates the establishment of an Office of Economic Growth at the NJMC.
Hotel, food business up
During the presentation, officials discussed a Rutgers/Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce study that showed that in 2005, the Meadowlands was home to over 9,000 businesses that employed over 150,000 workers, with manufacturing jobs providing the highest percentage of jobs at 15 percent.
While the overall economy of the Meadowlands shrank by 4 percent between 2002 and 2005, there are several industry groups that experienced growth between 2002 and 2005.
Hotels and food services were up 12 percent, management of companies was up 22 percent, and real estate was up 28 percent.
It is these promising sectors that the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the NJMC, wants to target to encourage additional growth.
Proponents of economic growth in the Meadowlands region are also hoping that job growth will be stimulated by the critical construction projects now taking place in the area, including the Secaucus Junction Transit Village, the new football stadium that will replace Giants Stadium, the new New Jersey Transit rail link to the stadium area, and the Xanadu retail and entertainment project.
Private and public sector working together
With the release of the regional economic profile and the introduction of the growth plan, Jim Kirkos, the chief executive officer of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, expressed optimism about the region's economic outlook.
"We can prove that public and private partnerships can be effective," he said. "This work will provide us with the necessary framework for constructive debate and deliberations to create a regional plan that is cohesive and effective."
Carl Van Horn, director of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, noted that the plan ultimately is only as good as its execution.
"We have a rich array of economic opportunities in the region," he said. "The task of all of us here today is to work on making connections so that there is an efficient labor market in the Meadowlands."