At NJBIA conference, Guadagno says N.J. business climate improving

ISELIN – Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno painted a rosy picture today of the state’s business climate and job growth prospects, saying employers are feeling more optimistic.

It wasn’t always this way.

“People had very little hope tomorrow would be better than today,” she told attendees at the New Jersey Business and Industry Association conference, where Guadagno was the keynote speaker.

She said there were 117,000 private-sector jobs lost in 2009, and some $70 billion of wealth left the state in the mid-2000s. The exodus of residents was so large that New Jersey stands to lose a Congressional seat, she said.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” she said.

Guadagno described herself as the “warmer fuzzier side” of the administration, which complements Gov. Christie’s pugnacity.

“Collectively we can agree the fights had to be picked,” she told the hundreds of business association members gathered about the need to make changes to structural problems.

After nearly two years, Guadagno said, outsiders are looking at New Jersey “in a different light.”

“My job isn’t red and it isn’t blue. My job is green. My job is to bring jobs to the state of New Jersey.”

Over a four-year period, there will be $1 billion in business tax cuts, she said.

“You attitude is better. My attitude is better. Taxes will eventually be lower.”

Progress could be measured by success at the Economic Development Authority, which she said has seen many more projects and has produced $274 million in economic development and 5,800 construction jobs in 2010-11.

“The cranes are going back up,” she said. “We are open for business in New Jersey.”

The lieutenant governor recently completed a nine-month tour of 100 businesses of all shapes and sizes.

While the state has retained many jobs and credits non-profit groups like Choose NJ, she said more new jobs are needed.

She said with New York and Connecticut raising taxes on various groups, New Jersey could market itself “as a better place to do business.”

“The future will be to convince the rest of the region, the rest of the country,” she said. “That’s real job creation…Not just for now, but in the future.”

At NJBIA conference, Guadagno says N.J. business climate improving