From NJ Spotlight:
It may sound more trite than true, but “think globally, act locally” is an apt — though oversimplified — assessment of what New Jersey needs to do to thrive in what’s being called the “innovation economy.”
This new macroeconomic model stresses speed, collaboration, and flexibility. It expects expertise in the so-called STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and math. It may ultimately reverse conventional paradigms, with companies following high-value workers rather than employees chasing after jobs.
And as was made clear last week at a summit hosted by the PlanSmart NJ land-use think tank, Trenton must make some tough decisions if the Garden State is going to be a global player. For starters, it must upgrade New Jersey’s transportation, power, and IT infrastructure; relax home rule laws; and encourage public-private partnerships.
To be clear, this is not just about the trifecta of usual complaints about the state’s steep taxes, high cost of living, and challenging regulatory environment — though they must be addressed as well.
“Competition for innovation-based economic growth on a national and global level has become so massively intense that states have to get everything right: taxes, talent, trade, infrastructure, and much more,” according to Stephen Ezell, coauthor of Innovation Economics.
“States don’t control the terms anymore,” he continued, “Companies shop the world to find the optimal locations. That’s the global economic reality.”
Ezell added that two-thirds of U.S. economic growth since WW II is directly attributable to innovation. And because innovation explains 90 percent of the variation in per capita income growth across countries, it’s imperative that states and nations get it right.
And experts who have been working with the state to help “get it right” point out that New Jersey does face some formidable obstacles. “As hard as it is to believe, New Jersey has evolved into an inhospitable place for people and businesses,” lamented noted real estate analyst Jeffrey Otteau.