State help for technology companies may decline

    Two programs that benefit small technology companies in New Jersey face severe budget cuts as Governor Chris Christie proposes ways to balance the budget.

    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has proposed big changes for how the state helps small businesses stay on their feet and create new jobs. A few casualties of his attempt to balance the budget, however, include slashing funding for two programs aimed at science and technology businesses.

    Under the governor’s proposal, the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology will be eliminated. It provides grant funding and other support for small businesses. Those companies will also find it harder to receive help through a tax program that allows them to sell their losses to other businesses for a tax write off.

    Biomedical and technology organizations in New Jersey say the approach may backfire, because these programs bring dollars back to the state by fostering job creation and more taxes. BIO New Jersey helped develop the tax benefit in the 1990s. President Debbie Hart says companies were able to reduce their losses to remain solvent, hire employees, and attract more funding.

    Hart: It will be one less source of capital out there and capital is constrained already. And the sources are much fewer and farther between, so this cut could be a major detriment to our companies.

    Hart says she sympathizes with the Governor’s tough task of balancing the budget, but she believes these programs add revenue to the state by fostering business.

    Lou Bucelli is the entrepreneur in residence at the Acin Technology Center in Camden, which houses small defense contractors.

    Bucelli: Even though I don’t think it makes or breaks business, small businesses in particular, I think that it’s important to have some of it, especially in pockets like Camden. To attract businesses in particular into Camden, having these types of incentive programs is always helpful.

    Through his proposed New Jersey Partnership for Action, Governor Christie has other plans to support businesses. A new public-private entity would serve as the umbrella organization for all assistance to companies in the state.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.