TRENTON – It was a display of nuts-and-bolts business acumen and grass-roots politicking.
Approximately two dozen manufacturers participated Monday in the “2011 NJBIA Made in New Jersey Day” at the Statehouse here.
With exhibit tables set up along the first-floor corridors leading to the Senate and Assembly chambers, representatives of companies that turn out products as diverse as insulation, in-store displays, scented candles, modified asphalt, and machined parts for race cars sought to remind state lawmakers that manufacturing can remain viable in New Jersey but it needs the help of business-friendly legislation.
In fact, according to Philip Kirschner, president of the 22,000-member N.J. Business & Industry Association, there is an overriding function for state government above and beyond any specific pro-business laws that may be passed.
“Government can set a tone and instill confidence,’’ said Kirschner, who pointed out that New Jersey is home to approximately 400,000 manufacturing jobs, down from possibly 550,000 a decade ago.
He explained that they are starting to see some of that “tone” in the budget-making process these days, with lawmakers setting revenue levels first and then deciding what programs those monies can fund, as opposed to previous sessions that set program needs first and then sought to find revenues to support them.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno was scheduled to visit exhibitors, and a full Assembly session scheduled for Monday afternoon will bring legions of legislators into the Statehouse, so Kirschner said the NJBIA sees this as an opportunity to have businesspeople convey their concerns to the policymakers.