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December 15, 2011

New Jersey spends nearly $300 million on economic development incentive programs annually, but it gets far too little for its money, according to Good Jobs First, a national watchdog group that looks at the results of economic development subsidies. The organization gave the state 39 points out of 100 and ranked it 24th in the country for performance and job-quality results for its five state economic development programs.

The Business Employment Incentive Program, which primarily benefits the state's largest employers and cost $106 million in 2010 got the best rating of 63, because it includes job creation, wage standards, and health insurance in order to get a subsidy. The worst rating of the five went to the $132 million Urban Enterprise Zone program, because it had no requirements for wages or healthcare.

New Jersey Policy Perspective issued a statement as a result of the report, chastising the state for not being more performance-oriented in its approach to providing subsidies. "Over the past two years, New Jersey has thrown subsidies at companies, but the plan hasn't succeeded in creating many new jobs. As a result, our state is lagging behind the rest of the country," NJPP president Deborah Howlett said. "We need to hold these programs to a higher standard to help ensure subsidy programs actually do what they are designed to do: create jobs and improve our state economy."

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