Former Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno addressed a crowd of about 50 in her first public appearance since starting her new position as partner at Connell Foley’s Jersey City office.
She spoke at the International Real Estate Management Conference at the New Jersey City University School of Business.
Pitching herself and her new employer, Guadagno said she can help newcomers be a contact for and navigate the government for new business.
“I know how to negotiate the ups and downs of regulation. I know the reputation New Jersey is a place that’s hard to do business in. But I also know this: Last year, New Jersey created 100,000 new small businesses. That’s a record number. Last year, more people were working in New Jersey than ever in the history of the state,” she said.
“So, no matter what your politics are, business is booming in New Jersey. It’s especially booming here in Jersey City because of the tax credits.”
She recounted how the Newport building become the new home base for 2,150 JPMorgan Chase employees.
“One afternoon I got a phone call from a developer who shall not be named — but a client of Connell Foley — and he said, ‘I read in the Wall Street Journal that the mayor of New York City trashed — for lack of a better word — the company called JPMorgan. And said they are never going to get any tax credits … from New York City.’ And I always used to say, ‘(Mayor Bill) DeBlasio was the best thing that ever happened to New Jersey,’” she said. “The developer said, ‘Don’t you want to call the CEO of JPMorgan?’”
So, she did.
“So, I pick up the phone, I call (then-Chief Operating Officer) Matt Zames and I say, ‘Matt, I hear the mayor of New York City doesn’t like you very much, but New Jersey loves you. Can I have my people talk to your people?’ And, six months later, 3,000 jobs moved from where you are looking right now to where you are standing right now,” Guadagno said.
It’s a move many should make, she has said numerous times in the past.
“I love to come to Jersey City and look at the view. Because I always said that people should move from Lower Manhattan across the river to Jersey City, because the view of Lower Manhattan — as you can see — is much better from this side,” she said, pointing outside the Skyline Room windows.
“And the rents are about a third (of Manhattan’s). And it was simple. We had 45 projects in Jersey City, we’ve saved or created approximately 17,000 jobs, and the best part was we did it because the numbers worked and people felt welcome.
“People come where the numbers work and they feel welcome.”