New Jersey’s main incentive program for business attraction and job retention was the Grow NJ Assistance Program. On July 1, 2019 the Grow NJ Assistance Program expired and has not been renewed. In anticipation of its expiration and renewal, in 2018 the Regional Center Partnership, Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Somerset County Business Partnership retained outside professional services to examine the Grow NJ business assistance program and advocate for reforms to improve the competitive position of the Regional Center communities and Somerset County.
The results of this in-depth examination revealed what is now called the “Suburban Disadvantage.” Certain provisions within the program resulted in a distinct disadvantage to 500 of the 565 municipalities in New Jersey, putting them at a disadvantage in the competition for jobs and private sector investment. This Suburban Disadvantage has impacted the Regional Center and Somerset County in terms of job creation. The report Ensuring the Economic Competitiveness of Somerset County documents the findings and recommendations that emerged from the analysis of the Grow NJ program.
On May 1, 2019 the Somerset County Business Partnership distributed the following Op-Ed Ensuring the Economic Competitiveness of New Jersey about the critical importance having a statewide business incentive program in place to attract and retain private investment in the state and that is fair and equitable.
On June 12, 2019 the Regional Center Partnership released a press release about the Suburban Disadvantage and combined efforts to create awareness of the issue with targeted audiences including legislators, the NJ Business Action Center, NJ Economic Development Authority, NJ Association of Counties, and NJ League of Municipalities.