NJMEP’s Kennedy disappointed manufacturing funding bill was vetoed — but remains optimistic about sector in N.J.

CEO said he understands budget issues of today, remains eager to work with Murphy and administration

John Kennedy, the CEO of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, certainly was disappointed Monday when a bill that would ensure his organization would get an annual stipend of $1.5 million from the state was vetoed by Gov. Phil Murphy.

But, as you might expect from someone who has made a career out of building companies and manufacturing products — and understanding the trial-and-error process of both — Kennedy said he’s already looking to find a solution that would be acceptable to all.

“NJMEP worked very closely with the Legislative Manufacturing Caucus to develop Bill S1957 as a more efficient and consistent method to provide funds on an annual basis that are 100% federally matchable,” Kennedy said. “Gov. Murphy and his team did not see it as the proper vehicle, and that position is understood and accepted.

“NJMEP maintains an excellent working relationship with our administration. We appreciate their continued support, and we will work to maintain it.”

Weeks ago, Kennedy told ROI-NJ he was hopeful the bill would pass — mainly because the money identified was a carveout of money already allocated.

That money, he said, would help MEP create more internship programs as well as open a South Jersey office.

Kennedy said Tuesday that he understands all budget items are under serious review in a time when money is needed everywhere.

“In a year such as 2020 — and with NJMEP already in the 2020-21 Budget — it would be petty to push back and ignore the life-altering issues that individuals and companies have had to deal with on a daily basis,” he said. “Our team will strive to continue its good work within the critical industry sectors of manufacturing/STEM/TLD.

“In fact, as we were receiving the disappointing news on our bill, we also were being told that our third-quarter metrics (again) topped the MEP National Network, and has provided for over $600 million in positive impacts in 2020 alone.

“I am proud of the NJMEP team, of our governor and our state — who all decided to lead and not follow during the pandemic. We appreciate the support and consideration, and we look forward to developing another bill that will work for all.”