Economic master plan means extraordinary opportunity

File photo New Jersey Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Tom Bracken was among those who appeared.

For several years, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce has said the state of New Jersey needs an economic master plan — a practical and realistic roadmap to get our state out of its economic rut and return it to economic vitality.

This is why I was extraordinarily pleased to hear Gov. Phil Murphy deliver his Economic Development Strategic Plan in Nutley last week.

The governor outlined aspirational goals that will help guide future policy, and begin to enable our state to achieve the enormous potential it has been squandering.

Hearing the governor talk about tax credits, increased venture capital funding, additional investment in infrastructure modernization, more support for small business, more initiatives to attract new businesses to New Jersey and plans to keep our talented workforce here shows he was listening to the business community. All the issues he outlined are of great importance to us.

There is no question that much more detail needs to be forthcoming to properly assess the plan’s feasibility and adoption. But a very simple fact is in place: We have a plan. It is the first I can remember in my career. It is a start, and you simply cannot make progress without a start.

However, this plan cannot be adopted in a vacuum. The visionary aspects of the governor’s plan need to be considered in conjunction with the introspective Path to Progress that Senate President Steve Sweeney’s task force introduced last August. The combination of the most practical aspects of both plans would be powerful and most encouraging.

All stakeholders need to engage in collaborative, open and constructive dialogue or nothing will happen. And comprehensive tax reform needs to be part of the dialogue.

Let’s think about the potential. Bold initiatives to propel growth, tough decisions to reduce the cost of government borne out of collaborative dialogue around a common goal. The state’s issues of affordability, competitiveness and outmigration would be attacked head on.

All the ingredients are on the table, and we have no time to waste. Let’s give all the proposals a fair, timely and constructive vetting, and let’s begin the dialogue to create what would culminate in a truly visionary economic master plan that would be very energizing.

Tom Bracken is CEO and president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, based in Trenton.