First New Jersey Business Summit set for Atlantic City

 New Jersey Chamber of Commerce president Tom Bracken says the New Jersey Business Summit will aim to help Garden State businesses that feel

New Jersey Chamber of Commerce president Tom Bracken says the New Jersey Business Summit will aim to help Garden State businesses that feel "locked in neutral." (Joe Hernandez/WHYY)

A collection of business groups in the Garden State is organizing its first-ever New Jersey Business Summit this month to discuss how commerce is faring across the state and devise ways to make New Jersey more business-friendly.

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce along with a dozen other chambers of commerce and more than 20 business groups are organizing the Sept. 17-18 meeting.

New Jersey Chamber of Commerce president John Bracken, who said companies and business groups feel “locked in neutral,” said he hopes the summit will produce solutions to help them.

“We’re not going to blame people, we’re not going to finger point. We’re going to look for solutions,” said Bracken.

“We need to increase the jobs in New Jersey, increase our economy. And the only way to do that, I think, is to have a healthy, positive discussion about issues in a very constructive way.”

After recently surveying more than 400 New Jersey business executives about their concerns, organizers said the summit will focus on four main topics: state taxes, state government regulation, transportation and infrastructure projects, and the workforce.

According to Bracken, a lack of funding for transportation and infrastructure projects might be the most pressing problem for New Jersey now, given that the Transportation Trust Fund is expected to go broke next summer.

“Something has to be done,” he said. “We can’t let the well run dry and have even fewer dollars for our infrastructure than we have now.”

A host of business owners, chambers of commerce, nonprofits, and labor organizations are expected to attend the summit at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.

Also there will be party leaders from the New Jersey Legislature — Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester;  Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, D-Hudson;  Sen. Thomas Kean Jr. and Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, both R-Union — which organizers see as critical to the summit’s goal of garnering state government support for more business-friendly policies.

“When the Legislature talks to people like us, the leadership, they’re getting a perspective from the leadership,” said Bob Prunetti, president of the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce.

“But when they see and feel and hear the everyday businessperson, grass-roots person, saying ‘these are the problems that we’re having keeping our business open, employing people, making the state better,’ I think it makes a much different impact.”

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