Christie and Guadagno pitch business with Coke coming

Putting shovels in the ground and paychecks in the pockets of New Jerseyans. This was the charge of Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno when she joined Gov. Chris Christie’s team last year.

Today, Guadagno and Christie put shovels in the ground with Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) in South Brunswick to kick off the construction of CCE’s largest sales and distribution facility on the east coast, employing 650 associates.

“(We are) shrinking the size of the public sector and growing the size of the private sector,” Christie said today.

At the event, Guadagno touted her three-pronged New Jersey Partnership for Action, mechanisms she said will restore business interest in New Jersey.

The first component is to raise the business profile of the state, which is what Christie will be doing on his cross county campaign trail trip, Guadagno said.

The second piece, already in place, is utilizing the Economic Development Authority, a government assistance department with access to capital, bond financing, loans, tax incentives, and real estate development assistance.

(The EDA was “instrumental” in bringing in Coke, Guadagno said, although CCE officials said no tax incentives were provided.)

The third element to Guadagno’s Partnership for Action is the New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC).

The NJBAC is a go-between for business and government, “to help you get the permits and work with the locals,” Guadagno said. “New Jersey is open for business again.”

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) is building a 270,000-square-foot sales and distribution center in Monmouth Junction. CCE is headquartered in Atlanta and responsible for 80 percent of U.S. sales.

The warehouse is a consolidation of several locations in the region and should July 2011.

With Campbell Soup, Honeywell, and Pitney Bowes, Coke is the fourth Fortune 500 company to expand in New Jersey.

Christie said today that the state is “looking for ways to say yes, not looking to put hurdles up” for businesses.

Bureaucracy can be “mind numbing,” Christie said, and challenging in a business sense, but he intends to make sure government is “no longer a major impediment” to business.

“I know it’s hard to believe there are issues with permitting in New Jersey,” he quipped.

Because of its available land and central location between New York and Philadelphia, the area around South Brunswick is a burgeoning distribution hub, with the recent additions of Jacques Moret Inc., an apparel design distribution of Joe Boxer and DKNY, and Williams-Sonoma, whose distribution center leases 1.4 million square feet around the corner from the Coke site.

Today, Coke ballyhooed that fact that their building will be environmentally-friendly – following LEED certification processes – including skylights, clerestories (reflective roof surfaces), water-conscious plumbing fixtures and more efficient HVAC equipment.

But this week investigative journalist Michael Blanding released his book, “The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink,” which accuses Coca-Cola Company, CCE’s parent, of various global transgressions.

“From India to Mexico, where bottling plants are suspected of decimating water supplies and spreading toxic pollution; to Columbia, where Coke union organizers are reportedly being killed for trying to protect their rights; to America, where super-sizing and exclusive soda contracts with schools have in part fueled a childhood obesity crisis, ‘The Coke Machine’ exposes the costs behind one extremely influential company’s quest for international success,” according to Blanding’s website.

Neither Michael Sullivan, CCE president of marketing, or Michael Drewniak, Christie’s spokesperson, would comment on the allegations of the book.

Christie’s stop in South Brunswick was quick – less than a half-an-hour – and he left before taking questions from the press.


Christie and Guadagno pitch business with Coke coming