Ports Initiative

4/25/2005 Port Elizabeth

PLAN: Creating Good Jobs at Good Wages

His plan for leveraging New Jersey ports is available here.

In March, I unveiled a new approach to economic growth in New Jersey to move our state beyond the failed pattern of tax, borrow and spend to a new paradigm of grow, invest, and lead, in the economy of the 21st Century so that our people can prosper in today’s fast-changing world.  As I said then, that prosperity depends on making strategic investments throughout our state, including right here at Port Elizabeth as well as our Delaware River ports.

Last year the volume of cargo passing through New Jersey ports shattered all previous records.  In 2004, more than $110 billion worth of goods passed through the Port of New York and New Jersey, beating the mark set in 2003 by a healthy margin.  That number represents major exports of wood products and plastics, and major imports, including furniture, electrical machinery, and coffee.

Every sign suggests that the flow of goods through New Jersey will continue to increase on into the future with massive new post-Panamax ships and exploding Asian markets.  In fact, the port-related workforce is expected to double over the next few decades through natural growth alone.

That’s why the harbor dredging and deepening project Congressman Menendez, Senator Lautenberg, and I have provided Federal money for, is so elemental to the continued growth of this economic asset.  The challenge for New Jersey policymakers now will be to capitalize on this momentum to propel broader economic development for the region and create even more jobs in our state.

As Governor, I will make expanding and accelerating the development of the port and related industries a top economic priority.

Over 100 million people 40 percent of the United States population live within a one-day drive of New Jersey.  Our companies should be handling every aspect of the flow of goods into and out of the northeast, from importation and warehousing, to distribution and logistics.  Our workers should be doing the work that businesses need like re-packaging, assembly, and customization to bring their goods to markets.  And our companies should be handling more of the logistics work, a booming industry in its own right which handles the procurement, transportation, transshipment, and storage needs of upstream and complementary businesses.

By ramping up our activities and building on the tremendous work already undertaken in this area by Congressman Menendez, New Jersey can provide one-stop shopping for businesses that use our ports.  The Liberty Corridor concept that Congressman Menendez has championed will have a full partner in Trenton with respect to its implementation.  The concept is based on a simple yet powerful business strategy: vertical integration.  That’s when the entire supply chain from producer to end user is managed by a single decision-maker or company.  But for New Jersey, it will mean that our ports will be the first step onto a New Jersey assembly line of services and value-added manufacturing that ultimately delivers goods to customers throughout the northeast.

As other port communities like Savannah, Georgia, have shown, vertical integration can unlock economic potential, create high quality jobs, and grow state revenue.  Let me emphasize: grow state revenue.  In Savannah, vertical integration has helped make it the fastest growing container ship port in the country.  For too long, New Jersey has been exporting economic opportunity.  When trucks leave Port Elizabeth for Pennsylvania or Maryland or Delaware, they don’t just haul away cargo.  They haul away jobs.

Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley has witnessed a tremendous expansion in its logistics industry.  Major distribution centers have sprouted up along the I-78 corridor on former greenfields in places like Allentown, Bethlehem, and Harrisburg only to have goods reshipped back into our metropolitan region.

By converting former industrial sites near where we stand for productive use and investing in critical rail and road infrastructure like the ExpressRail initiative and the Portway project — we can put an end to that unnecessary drain on our economy and attract those businesses to New Jersey.  Businesses that already use our ports will be able to make their operations more efficient and more profitable through consolidation.  They can house import, distribution, and logistics operations at one location.  In the process, we will position this trade corridor as a fully integrated hub one-stop shopping for all aspects of global commerce: from design to logistics.

For example, Michaels the chain of arts and crafts stores trucks its products from our port to a distribution center in Harrisburg.  There’s no reason that Michaels can’t prepare its products for distribution closer to where their products come to shore employing workers in Newark or Carteret or Bayonne.  And the same goes for scores of other companies who add to traffic, pollution, and their own costs by shipping the goods out of state for finishing and warehousing.

The urban areas that surround this port have some of the highest levels of unemployment in New Jersey.  They have watched our state’s manufacturing base dwindle, an industrial sector that long provided high paying, blue collar jobs.  Just last Wednesday, the last Chevy Blazer rolled off the assembly line at GM’s plant in Linden.

After years of outsourcing, it is time for this state to become a national leader of “insourcing.” By increasing activity at our ports and in related industries, we will create high quality jobs jobs that bring good salaries and benefits where they are needed most.

My ports initiative provides an opportunity to create solid, good paying blue-collar jobs to replace those lost in the manufacturing sector.

·        New jobs on the docks for longshoremen, truckers, and mechanics.

·        New jobs running major distribution facilities that warehouse goods for retailers throughout the Northeast.

·        New jobs in repackaging, re-labeling, and customizing imports.

·        And new value-added, light manufacturing jobs assembling and finishing furniture, computers, medical devices, and more.

According to projections, for every million square feet that the state converts for use in import-related activities, more than 1,000 jobs will be created.

Within ten miles of where we are standing, there are at least 2,500 acres of brownfields that sit dormant or underutilized.  Those brownfields represent real estate that companies can use for job-creating activities like repackaging and light manufacturing.  By converting those contaminated lots, we can generate as many as 60,000 new port-related jobs.

But it goes beyond just brownfields.  Anyone who’s driven down the turnpike has seen the empty ship containers that are stacked up by the thousands near our ports.  These containers accumulate because it’s cheaper to make new ones than to ship the old ones back to Asia.  As an aside, they also stand as testament to our failed international trade policies.

If elected, I will sit down with leaders from the container industry to explore ways to promote more productive land use where these containers are stored.  And I will look at the approaches adopted in other cities grappling with the same problem, some of which are state revenue producers.  New Jersey should be known as an innovator in port development, not as a giant parking lot for rusting containers.

As Governor, I will focus on revitalizing nearby tracts of land so that businesses will turn to New Jersey for every aspect of international trade.

I will make improving the roads and rails here an important priority so that we will be an even more attractive location for companies that already use our ports to access the eastern seaboard.  Again, we need to keep moving forward with projects like ExpressRail, which will increase the capacity of our freight train network and facilitate faster movement of products through our ports.  And we need to advance and expand the New Jersey Portway project a series of dedicated port roadways to relieve congestion and give trucks easier access to our ports and highways.

Within the new Governor’s Office of Economic Growth, I will establish a trade representative charged with showcasing the unique advantages of operating in New Jersey to attract new businesses and grow New Jersey’s export economy.

If we can find resources to keep professional sports teams in New Jersey, we can find the resources to attract business, bring new revenue to the state, and make New Jersey more affordable.

As Governor, I will marshal critical investments from the private sector, the Federal government, the Port Authority, and other agencies around a unified vision for port expansion and integration.  As part of a broader approach to regional transportation, I plan to sit down with governors from neighboring states to devise a comprehensive strategy for our ports.  Working together, we can get important things accomplished for the region, like the ARC trans-Hudson rail tunnel.

The principles underlying my vision for the Port of Newark and Port Elizabeth apply with equal force to the ports along the Delaware River.  In the coming months, I will flesh out a specific action plan for using the South Jersey ports as an engine for economic progress and job creation.

New Jersey was the crossroads of the American Revolution.  Now, we need to make sure that we are at the crossroads of the 21st Century economy.

Our state is the connecting corridor in the most vibrant region in the world where seaports, airports, rail lines and roadways all converge to serve the economic demands of regional, national, and international commerce.

If I am elected governor, I pledge to capitalize on the success of our ports to help set a new standard of excellence that offers every hardworking New Jersey family access to America’s promise.

By implementing a comprehensive regional plan for economic development focusing around our ports, we will welcome new businesses to our state.  Connected by an improved rail and road network, our port economy will be seamlessly integrated into the fabric of the local and national economy.  Formerly unused industrial sites in Newark, Elizabeth, Bayonne, Perth Amboy, and beyond will teem with new economic activity.

And most critically the hardworking people of New Jersey will have high quality jobs that enable them and their families to enjoy the high standard of living for which our state is known.

Thank you.