New Jersey’s economy is on the rebound, but if your own business if struggling, call the lieutenant governor for help.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno gave out her cell phone number to a roomful of Moorestown business owners Wednesday. It’s not the first time she’s disclosed her digits—thousands of business owners have her number, she said—which is intended as a pledge to the state’s entrepreneurs.
“If you have a problem with the state of New Jersey, my suggestion is … make one phone call to whatever agency you’re dealing with, and then call me. Cause it’s absolutely amazing how many people return my phone calls,” she said. “I am not going to stand here and say you’re always going to get a ‘yes.’ Sometimes you’re not entitled to a ‘yes.’ Sometimes you need a ‘yes, but,’ or sometimes a ‘no, but.’ But what you should be entitled to get is an answer."
Speaking before members of the Moorestown Business Association, Guadagno rattled off a list of the administration’s achievements and milestones: helping secure the Aegis contract for Lockheed Martin Moorestown, keeping 4,000 jobs in the state; the addition of 143,000 private sector jobs over the last four years, the most growth in the state since 2000; and eliminating roughly 2,000 pages of “red tape” to grease the wheels of job creation and economic development.
Many of those accomplishments were reached through bipartisanship, she said. “The color of jobs is not red; it’s not blue; it’s not political at all. It’s green—it’s a job.
“We have a lot of work to do,” she added. “But the unemployment rate is finally coming down, and I hope you feel it here in Moorestown.”
New Jersey's unemployment rate stood at 8.5 percent as of August, which was down from the high of 9.7 percent at the beginning of Gov. Chris Christie's tenure in January 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The national unemployment rate is 7.3 percent.
Guadagno also pointed to two recent recognitions she’s proud of:
Forbes magazine said over the last four years, New Jersey has risen from the 44th-ranked state to do business in up to number 32.
Business Facilities magazine, a trade publication that ranks the business climates in all 50 states, listed New Jersey in the top five of its “Most Improved” states.
Though she used Lockheed’s success with the Aegis contract as a local example of the administration’s business outreach, the lieutenant governor stressed there is “no problem is too small.”
Guadagno told the story of a woman who called her cell on a Friday afternoon for help securing an ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) license for a Trenton jazz festival the next day. The woman told Guadagno her application was “sitting on some bureaucrat’s desk.”
“I called the head of ABC, and said, ‘If that document is sitting on a bureaucrat’s desk and the only thing between this jazz festival occurring tomorrow or not, is the bureaucrat, then I want you to give her her license,’” Guadagno recounted. “She got her license. She had her jazz festival ... I tell that story so you feel comfortable calling.”
"Companies feel welcome when they have an open relationship with government," she added. "People stay where they feel welcome and appreciated … We just need to convince you of this."