‘Reintroduction’ of New Jersey begins in Asia

Murphy, dozens of state and business officials travel on East Asia Economic Mission sponsored by Choose New Jersey

TOKYO — Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration began an economic mission to East Asia on Sunday, eager to present the state as one that has a leading innovation economy, a talented and highly educated workforce, great schools and a progressive set of values that companies (and their employees) would find make it a great place to work and live.

You know, the way New Jersey used to be universally perceived.

Murphy administration officials are calling the 2023 New Jersey East Asia Economic Mission, sponsored and fully funded by Choose New Jersey, an opportunity to “reintroduce” the state to key Asian economies, including Japan and South Korea.

Almost five years to the day that Murphy introduced his economic development strategic plan — “The State of Innovation: Building a Stronger and Fairer Economy in New Jersey” — state officials feel they have the data to show they have reached many of their goals and objectives. And, more importantly, they now have the processes in place to continue growing.

More than 60 people from business and government are expected to be on at least part of the trip, including representatives from 16 industry companies, 11 law or public affairs firms or offices and seven institutions of higher education. (See complete list here.)

State officials and the company representatives are expected to meet with their counterparts during the trip at group events and one-one meetings, all in an effort to increase business — for the state overall and for the individual companies and firms present.

Here are just some of the things the state and the companies are expected to tout:

  • Rankings: New Jersey is soaring on various CNBC rankings that determine the best states to do business. In July, the state jumped 23 spots in the “Best States to Do Business” ranking, coming in at No. 19.
  • Educated workforce: In addition to having the highest percentage of scientists per square foot of any state, New Jersey recently had six schools in the Top 100 of the prestigious U.S. News & World Report rankings;
  • High-tech facilities: HELIX in New Brunswick and NEST in Kenilworth are just two of many state-of-the-art facilities that are looking for startups — and existing companies — in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics space.
  • Financial stability: New Jersey has been steady improving its creditworthiness, with repeated credit upgrades from the biggest ratings agencies;
  • Incentives: From the Evergreen Innovation Fund, the Black and Latino Seed Fund and Golden Seeds to the programs in which companies can sell their net operating losses and Angel Investor tax credits — and the traditional programs such as Aspire, Emerge and various Main Street initiatives — the Economic Development Authority has plenty in its toolkit to offer both major companies and startups;
  • Progressive policies: New Jersey is a leader in protecting women’s health rights and having strong anti-gun measures — two issues of great importance throughout Asia.

The trip had a soft opening on Saturday night with a dinner for all the delegates who had arrived. Some are arriving Sunday.

Numerous state and economic development officials said they feel the state is reclaiming the reputation it had in the 1970s and 1980s, when Bell Labs was Silicon Valley before Silicon Valley and Johnson & Johnson and a host of other global life science companies helped the state earned the designation of being “the medicine chest of the world.”

The state — after losing its way in recent decades — will pitch that it is well on the way back.

Speaking of returning, both the governor and first lady have spent extensive time in Asia, both as a student (the first lady) and when they lived abroad during the governor’s time at Goldman Sachs. So, they are familiar with the culture and business scene.

Neither, however, had been back for more than two decades before arriving Saturday.

This trip, which was delayed by the pandemic, will be the longest of the four Choose New Jersey economic missions. There were previous trips to Germany/Israel, India and Ireland.

Choose New Jersey potentially could have economic mission trips to Canada and/or Central/South America before Murphy leaves office.