TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie today announced a statewide plan to guide New Jersey’s economic future.
The State Strategic Job Growth Plan was described by the administration as an ambitious, flexible guide to New Jersey’s economic development future.
The plan sets forth goals of statewide importance and guiding principles, including identifying regions that will have clusters of emerging industries; identifying areas for priority growth; and preserving critical state resources.
“New Jersey’s challenges are too great to be approached in the stratified, haphazard and unrealistic manner that has characterized previous statewide planning efforts. This is a plan that will foster job growth in a sensible, sustainable and truly effective manner over the long term,” Christie said in a release this afternoon.
“By focusing our planning and economic development resources around common goals – better identifying and investing in vibrant regions and critical sectors of our economy, supporting effective regional planning, and preserving our invaluable natural resources – we are positioning New Jersey for sustained job growth, competitiveness and prosperity.”
The goals include:
- Targeting Economic Growth by identifying and promoting growth in regions of the state with clusters of critical or emerging industries that will be drivers of strong economic growth. These centers, known as Regional Innovation Clusters, are positioned for job creation and economic development based on existing infrastructure, educational, intellectual and workforce resources. Examples include regions supporting Bio/Pharma and Life Sciences, Finance, Manufacturing, Technology, Health Care, and the emerging Solar and Offshore Wind industries.
- Effective Planning for “Vibrant Regions” in New Jersey, includes areas designated as “Priority Growth Investment Areas” through a to-be-developed criteria-based identification process, in order to grow and promote communities with access to quality education, housing, public transportation and infrastructure, parks and recreation. Such areas include major urban centers, the Regional Innovation Clusters outlined above, existing designated centers, port areas, growth areas as identified by regional or county master plans and municipally designated redevelopment areas.
The administration said that encouraged development projects will be guided by Garden State Values, which is a list of best management practices to include projects that: increase job creation and business opportunities; are compact, mixed use, and accessible to existing development and infrastructure; prioritize redevelopment, infill and existing infrastructure; support healthy communities through environmental protection and enhancement; diversify housing opportunities; and that move forward within regional planning frameworks, among others.
- Preserve and Enhance Critical State Resources through continued support for New Jersey’s preservation programs and balanced state, regional and municipal planning that properly considers transportation, energy, water supply, water quality and air management needs now and in the future. Preservation programs provide a secure future for the state’s environmental resources, improve residents’ quality of life, and are a net economic benefit to New Jersey’s communities. This Strategic Plan calls for continued funding of state preservation efforts and reforms to encourage the use of underutilized preservation tools like development rights transfers that require limited public funding.
- Tactical Alignment of State Government through strong Executive Branch leadership overseeing implementation of the strategic plan through the creation of a State Strategic Job Growth Plan Steering Committee. The Steering Committee, created by Executive Order, will be headed by the Lt. Governor and include every department or agency of state government with a role in job creation and economic growth. It will coordinate the process of developing department and agency-specific plans, identify and pool a Garden State Fund of state economic development spending around the goals of the strategic plan, and work directly with a refocused State Planning Commission and Office for Planning Advocacy to provide a forum for public and local government input, and planning research and support resources, respectively.
In announcing the plan, Christie said that the intent of the 1985 State Planning Act is not being met.
The Governor’s office said the Act requires sound and integrated statewide planning in coordination with local and regional planning.
“This legislative intent has not been met in the last State Plan, adopted in 2001, which has resulted in the development of state capital expenditure plans, land use and environmental regulations separate and apart from economic development, transportation and social services plans,” the Governor’s office stated.
Conflicting state regulations and inconsistent application of rules and standards discourage economic development and contribute to an existing system of planning that is restrictive, complex, confusing and difficult to navigate.
As a result, Christie today signed Executive Order No. 78, providing for guidelines across government, including the creation of a state Steering Committee for the Strategic Job Growth Plan chaired by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, that will provide direction to state departments on the implementation of the Strategic Plan along with the State Planning Commission, and give specific requirements for each Department and Agency of state government to develop strategies that integrate the strategic plan into:
- · Program and rule changes;
- · Annual capital spending plans;
- · Intra and inter-agency coordination efforts; and
- · Staff training regarding the role of the strategic plan, Guiding Principles, and Garden State Values within program delivery.
Each Department and Agency will designate a Steering Committee liaison, the Office of Planning Advocacy will develop guidelines for agency-specific strategic plans, and departments and agencies will develop strategic plans.
The State Planning Commission will be following the steps required by the State Planning Act to adopt this as the official State Plan, the Governor’s office said. This process will include holding public hearings and other opportunities for public comment. Details on that process will be made via the Office of Planning Advocacy’s website, which can be found HERE.
A copy of the proposed draft Strategic Job Growth Plan can be found HERE and a copy of Executive Order No. 78 can be found as an attachment to this release.