Business Report Plus: Tax reform bill passes in the House

  • Jobs numbers positive this month
  • Rep. Norcross discusses apprenticeship program
  • YPO New Jersey members share concerns about running a business
  • Poll results on thoughts about helping small business in the state
  • Dave & Busters opens in New Jersey
  • GOP tax plan passes in the House over objections of New Jersey delegation
  • Stocks volatile this week

Jobs, redevelopment, and taxes, once again, were a big focus of the business scene in New Jersey this week. Hiring trends look good. Preliminary numbers from the federal government showed private companies hired 2,600 workers in October. Now that’s not as rosy an assessment as the prior week from Roseland-based ADP, which pegged monthly job growth at over 6,000, but the government data is positive, so we’ll take it.

But the great paradox with numbers like this is why is it so hard for so many people to find work? And how can you get the necessary training to become employable?

One way is through apprenticeship programs. This was National Apprenticeship Week, which is an initiative of the federal government that tries to promote apprenticeships at manufacturing and trades who are seeking workers to fill open positions. The initiative has only been around for a few years, but one New Jersey Congressman is a big fan of it. We spoke with Rep. Donald Norcross, a former electrician, about the opportunities in pursuing those careers traditionally considered to be blue-collar.

Just this week we heard from two New Jersey manufacturers who told us how hard it is to find staff. The manufacturing executives were members of YPO New Jersey, a leadership organization for businesses. These executives shared their concerns about running a business in New Jersey — and there are many. Their list included: finding staff and dealing with changes in immigration rules, fending off competition and challenges in the retail environment.

You have similar concerns. In our NJTV poll last week, we asked you to tell us what Governor-elect Phil Murphy can do to help small businesses. Your top responses included investing in workforce training and lowering taxes. We’ll keep the poll active and continue to update you on what’s top of mind for those doing business in New Jersey.

But it’s also important to note businesses aren’t shying away from the Garden State. Two chains have opened their first ever locations in New Jersey. Dave & Buster’s, the restaurant company known for its fun and games, is now open at Woodbridge Center Mall, and German discount grocery chain Lidl opened in Vineland, with more stores to come in South Jersey.

Every week around the state, developers present plans for new construction projects. One that caught our eye this week is a massive project planned for 400 acres of waterfront property in Sayreville. North American Properties and PGIM Real Estate have proposed constructing a $2.5 billion mixed used development — that means it will have a little bit of everything: Retail, restaurants, office space and hotels. We’ll be following that closely.

Finally, on the unpleasant subject of taxes, Congress has been busy trying to get tax reform through. Most of New Jersey’s Congressional delegation voted against the GOP-backed plan approved by the House this week, with several saying the plan would hurt small businesses. The Senate will consider its own bill soon, and it’s unclear how that vote will go. Catch up on our tax coverage this week with these reports from our senior correspondents David Cruz and Brenda Flanagan

Wall Street had a volatile week, rising on prospects of tax reform, and then falling on worries that Senate passage might be tough. Next week Wall Street will focus on the start of the holiday shopping season, as consumer spending is a key driver for the overall economy.

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