Doing business in New Jersey: Three companies explain why they are glad to be here

ROI-NJ spoke with Eden Hoffman, head of global communications at fintech Cross River Bank, which is based in Fort Lee, about the company’s eagerness to be headquartered in New Jersey.

ROI-NJ spoke with Suresh Muthuswami, chairman for North America at information technology services firm Tata Consultancy Services, which has its offices in Edison, about the company’s eagerness to be headquartered in New Jersey.

ROI-NJ spoke with Mike Reagan, senior vice president at computer consulting firm CGI, which has offices in New Brunswick, about the company’s eagerness to be headquartered in New Jersey.

New Jersey has a high cost of doing business, but it comes with an educated workforce. Is that true, and is it worth it?

Eden Hoffman: The directors of the state’s chambers of commerce, the EDA, influential business leaders and the government — especially Gov. Phil Murphy himself — are the ‘heart and soul’ that fuels robust commerce. The impact of growing up in New Jersey has been profound.

We feel New Jersey brings the best of both worlds to its communities: small-town relationships and connections along with big-city resources, including an amazingly well-educated workforce and local universities that enthusiastically engage with corporate leaders to tap into students to prepare them for future jobs before they graduate. 

In this way, the state works with business owners to cultivate and nurture future employees, ensuring a smoother and more productive transition from academia to a world career.

Suresh Muthuswami: In 2021, TCS CodeVita, which has been recognized as the world’s largest computer programming competition, had 136,054 college students from around the world participate, pitting their programming and technology skills against each other in an effort to be ranked among the top student programmers globally. 

Here’s the exciting part: Ben Alexander Mirtchouk of Stevens Institute of Technology, New Jersey, was the competition’s first-ever U.S. winner. That says it all. 

Mike Reagan: We can answer this question with a resounding, ‘Yes!’ The workforce in this state is excellent. At CGI, we take full advantage of the extraordinary universities that dominate here, working with them to help shape their curriculum to produce an educated work force that meets the needs of our company. We are particularly focused on graduates with STEM experience, and we are able to jump-start technology and entrepreneurial careers as a result. Whether it is Rowan, or Rutgers, or Montclair State, the graduates of these various universities come out immediately ready to step into their careers after graduating (and serving as interns with us during their college years). In addition, they are more competent in dealing with our clients and their needs, and more comfortable as they enter the workforce with a seamless transition. It is a win-win situation for us all. The students understand what skills (both professional and personal) we value, and we are able to make offers to graduating seniors recognizing that there will be minimum upfront effort on our part to integrate them into their new role.

Tell us one thing, businesswise, that has been a pleasant surprise for the company since coming to New Jersey?

Eden Hoffman: The business-friendly atmosphere in New Jersey has been a pleasant surprise. The state has been unexpectedly instrumental in the company’s transition — from their earliest beginnings in the state to their current level of maturity and success.

This is easily seen in the bank’s steady growth. Cross River is a trusted financial services organization that has merged the established expertise of a bank with the ability to deliver the speed, innovation and product offerings of a technology company.

Suresh Muthuswami: We have been pleasantly surprised by New Jersey’s welcoming, business-friendly climate, which is further complemented by the state’s commitment to providing significant support for education. 

Mike Reagan: We have been pleasantly surprised at the incredibly welcoming attitude of everyone in New Brunswick. We have been here just over 13 months now, and everyone we have met so far has worked hard to create new connections for us and has helped us by opening doors to more relationships. James Cahill has been the mayor since the early 1990s, and he could not be more helpful. Along with Mayor Cahill, others have extended their hands as well, including the New Brunswick Development Corp. and Rutgers University — to name a few of the high-profile organizations and institutions we have built relationships with.

Tell us one thing that has been harder than you thought since coming to New Jersey?

Eden Hoffman: There really have been no unwelcome surprises — the collaboration between Cross River and New Jersey has been remarkable.

Suresh Muthuswami: There has really not been anything that would be construed as a challenge or an unwanted complication. 

Mike Reagan: To be frank, there have not really been any adverse surprises or situations that we have encountered since our move to New Brunswick. Of course, we acknowledge the high cost of doing business in the state, although the governor recently announced he is trying to sunset the business tax surcharge. But there are also some relief programs that are aimed at helping companies like ours mitigate, or reduce, the business tax. Nonetheless, it would be appreciated if the tax on businesses was more in line with similar taxes in the states surrounding New Jersey.

When you speak with colleagues outside of New Jersey, what is the first thing about the state that you mention?

Eden Hoffman: I tell them New Jersey businesses have all the advantages that are common to a much bigger state while still maintaining a neighborly attitude that sidesteps the burdens and bureaucracy that typically accompany life in a big state, thus eliminating unnecessary headaches that can occur for those trying to build businesses in an unfriendly environment.

Suresh Muthuswami: I tell them the New Jersey state government has a strong track record of fostering relationships between corporate leaders and state employees at all levels. As a result of New Jersey’s solid infrastructure, which includes access to local, national and international transportation, an exceptionally well-educated workforce and strong communities, TCS has been able to recruit and retain top employees, attracting more than 660 employees from New Jersey colleges and universities over the last four years. 

In addition, we launched a co-innovation hub for clients, startups and researchers in the tri-state area. Both startup companies and those that are more established can develop innovative strategies to help their businesses thrive with emerging technologies.

Mike Reagan: Actually, the one quality we think matters most is location. It isn’t one of the choices you expected, but, for us, because of our deep commitment to our community, the location really matters. We hire locally, we serve our clients with our client proximity model and we live locally as well. Most of all, we want to foster a workforce of individuals who are willing to give back to, as well as take from, the local community. 

So, you can see why our location is crucial. It is more than simple convenience when you realize that, in one hour, we can get to the beautiful Jersey Shore; in 90 minutes, we can be enjoying a ride through the mountains; and hopping on a train bound for New York City, we can enjoy a world-class Broadway show in under an hour. Alternatively, we can easily get to Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Boston or Connecticut, depending on our travel plans. New Jersey — and New Brunswick, specifically — is truly in the middle of a cultural mecca and is perfectly situated for us.

Content for these pages was provided by Sally Glick, a contributor to ROI-NJ.