By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog
Today was all about eating around the edges and reclaiming New Jersey’s traditional reputation as a home of innovation goes back to days of Edison and, appropriately, Alexander Graham Bell.
The scion of one of New Jersey’s preeminent political families is also keeping his eyes on the road, looking ahead to the future, as Chris Christie spends more (and more) time outside of New Jersey and the next legislative cycle – and a gubernatorial contest? – loom right around the next bend.
Accompanied on a tour of the facility by company President Marcus Weldon, Sen. Kean unveiled his caucus’s latest proposals towards to end at the Murray Hill headquarters of Bell Labs on Friday.
“Bell Labs is a tremendously successful asset for New Jersey and its economy, and I am proud to stand with Marcus and have his support as we seek to increase opportunities and create high-paying jobs with this new set of bills to foster innovation,” Sen. Kean said. “This legislation will help expand research and development efforts, as well as create greater avenues for success by linking higher education and business communities. These bills can open doors to help impressive employers like Bell Labs grow here and attract more job creators by showing that New Jersey is devoted to staying a force for innovation.”
New Jersey’s technology sector alone accounted for no less than 311,869 jobs in the Garden State as of 2011, or roughly 10% of that state’s total active workforce capacity.
“Bell Labs is a key innovation engine driving the global communications industry,” added Marcus Weldon, President of Bell Labs. “This initiative aims to ensure that New Jersey continues to be a leading player on the global stage and that our heritage of invention continues at Bell Labs.”
Kean’s “Fostering Innovation” six-tiered job creation and economic growth package consists of the following initiatives (in the Senate GOP office’s words, not mine):
- Creates a post-doctoral fellowship program for cutting edge industrial research and development at New Jersey businesses. This bill will support employers engaged in innovation, and it will also develop the future workforce pipeline that New Jersey needs to remain competitive. (Senator Kean’s S-2442 was just introduced and is attached).
- Creates an entrepreneurial fellowship program to foster entrepreneurial spirit and support STEM start-ups. Such fellowships will encourage start-up businesses with new ideas that will drive innovation in New Jersey (to be introduced immediately).
- Establishes permanent funding for the Commission on Cancer Research. The Commission has gone through ups and downs in recent budget cycles, but permanent funding through the underutilized Workforce Development Partnership Fund will solidify this worthy program and help attract top scientists to New Jersey to find cures for cancer and improve the innovation economy. (To be introduced immediately).
- Establishes a permanent commission on higher education-business partnerships to perform such functions as supporting partnerships; fostering innovation in the economy; maximizing community colleges role in workforce development; and establishing a higher education ombudsman to help business navigate the higher education community and support collaborations such as keeping clinical trials in New Jersey and promoting technology transfers. (To be introduced immediately).
- Creates within the New Jersey Economic Development Authority a technology transfer assistance program. Getting new ideas and products to market can be a daunting task, and a designated office in the state EDA will be a great resource for professors and entrepreneurs alike to stimulate New Jersey’s innovation economy. (To be introduced immediately).
- Provides for the designation by the New Jersey EDA of institutions of higher education or other qualified entities as manufacturing and production resource centers. This program can support manufacturers’ efforts to modernize, and become more productive and efficient. (To be introduced immediately).
- Allows for crowdfunding investment opportunities to spur entrepreneurship and innovation in New Jersey. Crowdfunding is an easy and convenient way for entrepreneurs and innovators to get their ideas to market via online private investments. This bill breaks down existing barriers in New Jersey. (Senate Republican Joe Kyrillos and Senate Democrat Ray Lesniak sponsor this, Senate Bill 712).
- Makes New Jersey a hub for driverless car research, development and production. (Senator Kean’s S-734).