NJ CEOs Have More Positive Business Outlook

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
New Brunswick. May 21, 2013

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Business leaders attend economic summit at Rutgers

Many of the company executives attending an economic summit in New Brunswick are voicing more confidence in New Jersey as a place to do business.

The latest survey by Rutgers economists indicates that 28 percent of Garden State CEO’s now view New Jersey as a good or excellent place to expand their business. That’s up from 24 percent last year.

Doug Kuiken is CEO of Kuiken Brothers Company, a lumber and building materials business. He’s cautiously optimistic that business will improve.

 “We have been reluctant to hire and bring in new people, but the last six or seven weeks have been fairly robust. I hope it’s a new trend and not just a head fake. I think if we get our feet firmly under us and we see a continuation of what we’ve seen over the last six or eight weeks we will be in a mood to hire some people.”

Judy Spires is CEO of Kings Supermarkets.  She says the company plans to double its business in the state in the next three to five years.

 “The market is just ripe for the customers that like to cook, eat at home, entertain, and are very health conscious. So that’s why so many supermarkets are trying to expand and come into this marketplace.”

Gil Medina, the Executive Managing Director of Cushman and Wakefield, says an improving New Jersey economy should help the real estate market.

 “The industrial real estate is going to continue to perform well, residential real estate will continue to perform well, and we think that with the employment numbers improving the office real estate market will also improve.”

Not all company executives are optimistic.

Janice Klostermeier is the Chief Financial Officer of Emergency Medical Associates of New Jersey. She says hospitals in New Jersey are combining and cutting costs and that could lead to the loss of jobs.

 “There’s 140,000 health care jobs in hospitals here in New Jersey, and there’s a model out that expects that 15,000 jobs will be lost this year for the affordable health care act.”

34 percent of the CEO’s surveyed say they plan to increase employment in New Jersey in the next 12 months while 22 percent expect cutbacks.

New Jersey Business and Industry Association President Phil Kirschner says it will take sustained economic growth to convince more companies to expand.

“We have a few good months, a few so-so months, then another few good months. What people are looking for is consistent upticks in the economy month after month before they commit to hiring people full time.”


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