New Jersey's business incentives are revitalizing Camden: Opinion

Last month, Holtec International, one of the country's largest and most respected energy production equipment companies, announced that it would be relocating its headquarters to Camden from Evesham Township, and adding a manufacturing plant at the Camden site.

Last month, Holtec International, one of the country's largest and most respected energy production equipment companies, announced that it would be relocating its headquarters to Camden from Evesham Township, and adding a manufacturing plant at the Camden site.

Plans include bringing hundreds of jobs to the area, which will aid in reviving that city's long and proud heritage of manufacturing. 

Holtec's announcement, one of many exciting developments in recent months, shows that once again that Camden is in the midst of a comeback. 

The state Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, championed by several South Jersey legislators, played a critical role in Holtec's decision to locate in Camden rather than in another state, such as South Carolina. However, equally important, is that Holtec's commitment to build a large manufacturing plant on the Camden waterfront is a recognition of the significant and ongoing efforts to improve economic development, public safety and education in the city.

Thanks to a variety of efforts and initiatives, such as Gov. Chris Christie's commitment to establishing Camden County's regional police force that serves the city, we have begun to see crime drop dramatically. Additionally, new transformational public schools and higher education facilities are being approved, built or expanded, and Camden City has regained an investment grade bond rating for the first time in more than three decades. For the first time in a long time, employers feel optimistic about its future and are deciding to be a part of the Camden renaissance. 

As expected, naysayers have responded by decrying the state's decision to approve Holtec's application for $260 million in tax credits under the law. While some groups are critical of providing tax credits as a tool to attract businesses, the chamber has always supported measures that would give New Jersey a competitive edge on other states. For far too long, New Jersey has been on the losing end of these recruitment battles. We are pleased to see the governor; state Sen. Donald Norcross, D-5; Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-Burlington; and many others taking steps to increase the economic viability of the region.

Notably, what many are not aware of is that the Economic Opportunity Act was structured with significant accountability to assure a company's own investment is at least equal to the amount of tax credit it could receive. In other words, the recipient must first put its own private capital into building a facility. Moreover, the credits are only received after certain employment goals are met, and there must be a greater benefit overall to taxpayers than there is to the firm. 

Holtec plans to invest $260 million to construct a new facility, which will create thousands of construction jobs. When the facility is operational, 235 jobs will be created, and 160 more will be relocated from other parts of the state — with the potential of thousands more  jobs in the future. Importantly, Holtec has committed to implement a job-training program for city residents to ensure that they will be employable and ready to work at the plant.

With Holtec leading the way, we believe that more businesses will view the City of Camden as a good place for their investment. South Jersey, like any region, can only benefit by having a strong, safe, vibrant urban center. We look forward to welcoming those businesses both now and in the future.

By Debra P. DiLorenzo

Original article


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