Sullivan remains confident Task Force findings are a plus as EDA reaches out to 18 firms for more info

EDA CEO Tim Sullivan talking about the proposed fund.

New Jersey Economic Development Authority CEO Tim Sullivan confirmed at the EDA’s monthly meeting Tuesday that the organization has sent out 18 letters to companies asking for additional documentation regarding applications for the state’s much-talked about Grow New Jersey programs.

What Sullivan does not know is whether the work of the state’s task force studying tax incentives is done.

Also unclear: How much the continued discussion of the state’s old tax incentives — including the desire to (rightfully) get things right — is impacting New Jersey’s reputation as a business-friendly state.

Sullivan understands the issue, but said he feels all such inquiries are ultimately are helpful to the state.

“I think we’ve got to follow the facts where they lead us,” he told ROI-NJ. “The work of the task force has been enormously helpful and illuminating some of the challenges, not just that we have internally with our processes, but some of the specific companies that we needed to have some follow up action with. We’ll continue to take on that feedback and pursue that.

“At the same time, we’re also out there making the case for the programs that we have that are operational right now. Whether that’s the angel investor tax credit program, the brownfield program, the film tax credit, all of which you are seeing continued strong interest in.”

Sullivan was responding to an NJ Advance Media story Monday night that first reported the state was looking to gather more information.

Three companies — Elwyn, Amerinox Processing Inc., and Rainforest Distribution — were specifically named.

Sullivan also said the state wants the Philadelphia 76ers to pay back $400,000 of the $82 million incentive the basketball team was awarded in 2016 when the team moved its practice facility to Camden. That change, Sullivan said, was the result of a processing error by the EDA.

Sullivan said such transparency is the key to the success of the EDA.

“I think it’s important, long term, to be able to tell the marketplace that we have confidence in our programs and the way they are run,” he said. “And there were certainly some short-term considerations to keep in mind as we pursue improving those programs, but, long term, getting it right leads to better stability.”

Sullivan said lessons learned will pay off when working on the next generation of incentives.

“As we continue to work with the Legislature on the next generation of incentives, having our arms around the challenges of the past is critically important as we begin to sort of build credibility for these programs long term,” he said.