Manufacturer: Cost of doing business in N.J. may force me to move to Pa.

For 29 years, Tektite Industries has been proud to build a business in New Jersey and help carry the torch for manufacturing in our state’s capital city. I can remember when we first started producing LED lighting and strobes, we had two products. It was here in Trenton that we saw our business grow to more than 100 products.

But, sadly, I now count myself as one of the many business owners in the state who are very seriously looking to relocate across the river to Pennsylvania. In fact, we have already investigated four sites thus far and have another 10 or so on our list.

The reason for our search is simple: It is just too costly to run a business here in New Jersey.

I realize this is familiar complaint. And, maybe, to some, it’s just rhetoric. But, for our part, it is indeed an undeniable reality. Even with the need for new infrastructure in a new location, our accountants compare the costs of doing business here to Pennsylvania and estimate we’ll have recouped that added expense in three years or so.

In our case, New Jersey’s high taxes, compounded by the new workplace mandates over the past year, are simply too much to bear. We are already eliminating our summer internship program and, in order to stay in New Jersey, we will need to eliminate or greatly reduce our contributions to our employee health care.

Also, as we need to constantly run machinery, another $300 million in state-approved ratepayer subsidies every year will result in us literally paying out thousands of dollars more annually in energy costs.

It is unfathomable to me that our governor and our lawmakers cannot see how all of these added costs impact businesses. In our case, and for other manufacturers, it’s not really a viable option to increase prices to accommodate these extra costs. We need to compete nationally and even globally, not just in the region. What also gets overlooked is that, if we don’t have the profits to put back into our business to update equipment or produce new technologies, we cannot innovate.

As our elected officials go back and forth during this budget season, it’s my hope that there is a concerted effort to fix what’s structurally broken in New Jersey to make life more affordable for both businesses and residents.

I was born and raised here. My father is a retired New Jersey state trooper. I consider myself a Trenton booster. But the cost of doing business, our high taxes and our officials’ failure to recognize the overall impacts of their policies leave me little choice but to look elsewhere.

Scott Mele is president of Tektite Industries, Trenton.