Manufacturing has been one of the strongest and most adaptable industries in New Jersey throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday, the New Jersey Legislative Manufacturing Caucus held a roundtable with ten of New Jersey’s manufacturers to hear about how they have adapted their businesses and to ascertain the issues that they faced in doing so, as well as those facing their businesses as the state begins its reopening. From companies like Unionwear in Newark, which switched from making baseball caps for Census Trackers to shields and gowns for our frontline healthcare workers, to GEMCO in Middlesex, which faced issues with needing to furlough workers due to a sharp decline in sales, to City Theatrical in Carlstadt, who is staring down the possibility of Broadway not opening again until 2021, the issues faced by Manufacturers in the state of New Jersey are real.
As we have been told time and time again by New Jersey’s manufacturing community, NJMEP is an essential resource to keeping many of your businesses running, whether it be through their consulting and other resources or John Kennedy’s emails that have been waking you up at five in the morning. Besides the companies that NJMEP helps, there is no one that recognizes their importance more than we do. That is why in February we introduced S-1957, a bill that would dedicate $1.5 million annually from the New Jersey Workforce Development Partnership Fund to the NJMEP. Along with Manufacturing Caucus members Senators Bucco and Singleton (both co-sponsors on our Senate Bill) and Assemblymen DePhillips and Zwicker (sponsors of the bill in New Jersey’s General Assembly), this bill awaits a committee hearing in both houses of the New Jersey legislature. Additionally, there is a bill in the final stages of being drafted that we are very excited about. The bill would give tax incentives to New Jersey businesses if they use, purchase, or sell products that are Made in New Jersey.
Economically, this is an easy time for no one in New Jersey, but the road to recovery in the Garden State runs through the manufacturing industry. We hear your concerns, and we are here to help. We would like to thank Peter Connolly, Mitch Cahn, Amy Eskilson, Gary Fails, Gail Freiberg, Patrick Marotta, Howard McIlvaine, Casey Bickhardt, Dax Strohmeyer, and Dieter Weissenrieder for providing us with a wealth of information to work from at the roundtable discussion. We would also like to thank John Kennedy, Constantina Meis, and the rest of the hard-working NJMEP team, Chrissy Buteas and Chris Emigholz from NJBIA, and everyone else who helped plan, execute, or participated in the discussion. We look forward to continuing this conversation with the manufacturing community as New Jersey’s recovery progresses and to finding new ways to help our great state’s manufacturing community prosper.
Senator Linda Greenstein, Chair
Senator Steve Oroho, Co-Chair
NJ Legislative Manufacturing Caucus