Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces


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Seeking a Prosperous Garden State

September 14th, 2006 by

  • Governor Corzine’s Economic Growth Strategy, unveiled last week, outlines steps the state will take to spark economic growth and innovation in the Garden State.
  • New Jersey’s economy faces a number of challenges. While New Jersey stands out on a host of traditional economic income indicators such as income level, educational attainment, homeownership, and employment, recent investigations into these trends show that New Jersey is beginning to lose its competitive edge, according to a recent analysis of New Jersey’s competitive position by the Brookings Institution in partnership with New Jersey Future.
  • In fact, New Jersey ranks at the bottom nationally in wage growth, and the state is losing high wage jobs, gaining low wage jobs, and losing more high-tech jobs than any other state.
  • Other challenges that impede New Jersey’s competitiveness and growth potential include rising housing costs, persistent race, class, and place disparities, and unbalanced development patterns that undermine our cities and older suburbs.
  • New Jersey’s State Development and Redevelopment Plan – the state’s blueprint for using growth to strengthen our economy and quality of life simultaneously – can be used to guide future growth, investment, and preservation. Doing so honors decades of citizen input into how New Jersey should grow and ensures that quality of life in New Jersey will prosper along with the economy.

Thanks to its use of the State Plan as a foundation for a number of key action items, the Governor’s plan brings New Jersey a critical step closer to genuine prosperity and smart economic development. These action items, designed to promote sustainable growth in cities while also protecting the state’s environment, include:

  • Aligning capital investments with economic and environmental goals outlined in the State Plan.
  • Targeting economic opportunity that takes into account the capacity limitations of state natural resources, including water supplies and wastewater services.
  • Establishing a “Ready for Growth” initiative to encourage the redevelopment of New Jersey’s urban areas.
  • Creating a New Jersey Urban Fund, which will provide businesses and community development organizations with financial and technical tools necessary to revitalize neighborhoods.
  • Increasing infrastructure investments, including mass transit and freight transportation infrastructure.
  • Increasing mixed-income housing development throughout the state.
  • Encouraging entrepreneurship and growth of small, minority-owned and women-owned businesses, in recognition of the fact that much of the job growth, particularly with entry-level jobs, is likely to be generated by these types of businesses.

During his campaign, Governor Corzine told New Jersey Future, “I support making all state capital investments, including open space and farmland programs, consistent with the State Plan. In order to spur redevelopment of our urban and older suburbs, we must make these areas attractive places to live and identify properties where development can move forward.” By using the State Plan as the foundation for economic growth, the Governor’s new plan can help end decades of disinvestments in the older places where most New Jerseyans live, maximize investments already made in infrastructure and transit, curb duplicative and wasteful investment in sprawling development, and help the state move towards increased prosperity and improved quality of life.

For questions about this issue of Future Facts, contact Tim Evans, research director.

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