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How success of Kearny Point project was key to $3M infrastructure grant for Kearny

The town of Kearny has received a $3 million federal grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Public Works program to redevelop and improve Hackensack Avenue into a high performing “green” street, seeing as the stretch of roadway serves as the primary entranceway to Kearny Point, a collection of more than 3 million anticipated square feet of coworking and flexible-use office space on 130 acres in South Kearny.

“To say that I am impressed with the local vision and the collaboration taking place here would be an understatement,” John Fleming, U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, said Thursday on site at Kearny Point. “Through your efforts, this land is being reborn as a center for the pioneering companies of the new economy, providing a flexible, modern workplace and home to a diverse community of today’s creators.”

The EDA’s investment also will be matched by $1.3 million in local funds, Fleming added.

Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos, from left, with John Fleming, assistant secretary of commerce, Hugo Neu CEO Wendy Kelman Neu and Hugo Neu Director of Development Mike Meyer.

“This is the type of true public-private partnership that the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Administration is eager to invest in,” he said.

Fleming attributed the success of one of the largest adaptive reuse projects in the country to Wendy Kelman Neu, chairman and CEO of New York City-based Hugo Neu Corp., with the ongoing redevelopment representing an expected $1 billion in public and private investment into the site over the next decade.

Hugo Neu Corp., a recognized global leader in recycling, is the owner and redeveloper of Kearny Point.

“It is through your commitment and wisdom that this former maritime facility is being transformed into a cutting-edge, world-class innovation district and manufacturing hub,” Fleming said.

Neu said the announcement Thursday marked the celebration of an incredible milestone not only for Kearny Point but also for the long-term economic development goals of Kearny, as the funding goes toward a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act-designated Opportunity Zone.

“We would not be here today without the hard work of the many stakeholders that understand that in addressing the infrastructural needs to support growing businesses at Kearny Point, we can take critical and meaningful steps to protect and enhance our natural environment,” she said.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said the federal grant was a wise investment in New Jersey infrastructure.

“The modernization of Hackensack Avenue will not only safeguard the area from future storm-related flooding, but will strengthen pedestrian and biker safety and lay the foundation for the economic revitalization and improved quality of life that this community deserves,” Booker said in a statement.

According to Mike Meyer, director of development at Hugo Neu Corp., the redevelopment of the roadway will include the planting of more than 20,000 square feet of grass, plants and trees; the creation of designated paths for both pedestrians and cyclists; new street light poles; and the implementation and improvement of overhead electric services and underground gas distribution system piping.

Designed by Bohler Engineering and Arterial Design Studio, the project also will reduce flooding and limit nonpoint pollution of the Hudson-Raritan watershed by rebuilding the roadway’s underground water distribution, stormwater and sewer systems.

Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos said the roadway improvements, which are expected to be completed within a year and a half, are just the beginning.

“We will be submitting more applications and we will be able to show you results,” Santos said. “Bringing old industrial centers back to life to create more jobs should be our collective goal irrespective of state or party.

“We should be about economic growth in a responsible way that creates jobs — and Kearny Point is meeting that challenge.”

Kearny Point is the modern answer to developing the new economy, Neu said, made possible by the scrap metal trading business her late husband, John Neu, started with his father, Hugo Neu, in 1947.

Through various subsidiaries, Hugo Neu Corp. had developed more than 9 million square feet of industrial properties in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California over its many decades in business, including the former Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. warehouse and distribution facilities in South Kearny.

Building 78 at Kearny Point.

When Hurricane Sandy left the site under four feet of water in 2012, the Neus decided to demolish and construct newer industrial buildings for distribution and logistics purposes. But with the passing of her husband in 2013, Wendy Kelman Neu, who had been working for Hugo Neu Corp. since 1980, unexpectedly assumed complete control of the historic riverfront site.

Neu ultimately decided to partner with Steve Nislick, former CEO of Edison Properties and now chief financial officer of Hugo Neu Corp., to reposition the company to invest, build and manage innovative businesses in recycling and real estate, starting in 2015 with the renovation and construction of four floors of flexible-use office space between 200 and 3,000 square feet at Building 78, a 200,000-square-foot building at Kearny Point.

Starting at nearly $500 per month, small to medium-sized businesses now have 24/7 access not only to high-quality, scalable office space in which to grow, but also coworking space, rooftop event space, a café and bar, internet technology services, printer, scanner and copier services and package delivery and receipt services for a fraction of the cost of what they would find in New York City, Newark, Hoboken or Jersey City, Nick Shears, director of leasing and marketing for Hugo Neu Realty Management, said.

Having reached more than 95 percent occupancy within a year and a half without the use of brokers in 2017, Building 78 at Kearny Point now hosts more than 200 businesses and nearly 500 employees, Shears added, with the majority of tenants being women- and minority-owned companies.

Building 78 has proven so successful, in fact, that an annex consisting of 90,000 square feet of small flexible-use office space is currently being constructed to expand the building’s footprint by the end of this year.

According to Hugo Neu Corp. representatives, subsequent phases of the project will also involve the renovation and demolishment of older buildings on-site to create more than 3 million square feet of WELL AP-certified flexible-use office space ranging from 200 to 10,000 square feet; the construction of a gathering hall with retail and dining components; a waterfront park and living shoreline at the confluence of the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers; an outdoor amphitheater; and more than 25 acres of open space for both the tenants and the public.

The goal, Neu said, is to create nearly 10,000 jobs on site.

“But this is much larger than 130 acres,” she said. “What we hope to do here is create a model in Kearny that then will be transferable to other locations.”

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EY names 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year finalists for N.J.

EY has announced the finalists for its Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 Award for the state of New Jersey, with 32 Garden State businesses making the cut.

Award winners will be announced at EY’s gala event June 20 at the Hyatt Regency New Brunswick.

Regional award winners will be in the running for the national awards, which will be announced in November at a California gala. The national winner will compete for the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2020.

This year’s New Jersey finalists are:

  • Amarin Corp. — John Thero
  • Apprentice.io — Angelo Stracquatanio
  • Charge Method Technology — Jessica Gonzalez
  • Corporate Essentials — Judson Kleinman
  • Dyla — Neel Premkumar
  • FlexWage Solutions — Frank Dombroski
  • Flow.io — Mike Bryzek and Rob Keve
  • Gaming Laboratories International — James Maida
  • Health Recovery Solutions — Jarrett Bauer
  • Hetherington Information Services — Cynthia Hetherington
  • JAG Cos. — Rolando Acosta
  • Kane Brewing Co. — Michael Kane
  • Little Words Project — Adriana Carrig
  • Lorenzo Food Group — Joseph Lorenzo
  • Maestro Technologies — Kamal Bathla
  • MBS Highway — Barry Habib
  • McLaren Engineering Group — Malcolm McLaren
  • Momentum Solar — Arthur Souritzidis
  • Net2Source — Ashish Garg
  • Northpass — Steve Cornwell
  • Onkos Surgical — Patrick Treacy
  • Playa Bowls — Abby Taylor and Robert Giuliani
  • Polymer Dynamix — Veerag Mehta and Vikas Mehta
  • Rafael Pharmaceuticals — Sanjeev Luther
  • SmartLinx Solutions — Marina Aslanyan
  • Stanek Netting Co. — Jeremy Stanek
  • T&M Associates — Gary Dahms
  • Toorok Capital — John Beacham
  • Triangle Home Fashions — Jenny Cohen
  • Unitronics Systems — Yair Goldberg
  • Visual Lease — Marc Betesh
  • Voxware — Keith Phillips

The program, in its 33rd year, is founded and produced by EY, formally Ernst & Young LLP, with sponsors SAP America and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. New Jersey sponsors include DLA Piper and PNC Bank.

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More hours, dessert, success: For owner and chef Risa Magid Boyer, running Montclair’s Vanillamore means no easy days … and that’s just how she likes it

When she was 28 years old, Risa Magid Boyer said she was able to effectively combine her love for food and art by opening her popular dessert-first restaurant concept in Montclair. 

The trade-off, of course, was balance. 

“I currently work almost two employees’ worth of kitchen shifts daily,” Boyer said. 

Days off are rare and 12-hour shifts are the norm at Vanillamore.

Milk & Cookies ($12), Vanillamore’s pièce de résistance, is a half-dozen espresso hazelnut mousse, chocolate chip and ginger-molasses cookies served alongside vanilla-malted milk. ­

Boyer, however, said there is nothing else she would rather do. 

“I grew up loving food without realizing I could make it into a career,” she said. 

Boyer, owner and executive chef, said she puts extraordinary and innovative desserts at the center of the menu, with healthy and seasonal savory food to complement. 

Her sweet tooth, however, most likely is inherited. Her grandmother, Boyer said, was a cake decorator; her grandfather’s family owned bakeries in Poland for generations; and her parents founded a retail chocolate business in New Jersey in the mid-1980s. 

But Boyer initially chose to study graphic design at Northeastern University, until she realized that the line cook job she got at a nearby restaurant in her sophomore year was more fun than attending class. 

“I love tactile and tangible art, but I was studying graphic design and sitting in front of a computer all day,” she said. 

Boyer ultimately decided to leave to combine her love for food and art at the Culinary Institute of America, from which she graduated in 2011, and began working in nearly half a dozen New York City and New Jersey restaurants. 

“But, when I worked for a very high-end Italian restaurant for a very short period of time, I saw how the kitchen operated and hated the environment,” Boyer said. “I was by myself on the pastry line, I wasn’t learning from anyone and it was very male-dominated.” 

Boyer said she decided to become a pastry instructor and resident chef at Sur La Table in Canton, Connecticut. 

“I wasn’t just teaching pastry classes and I was therefore able to dabble with both sweet and savory dishes while managing the program,” she said. “And you can learn a lot about how certain methods work by having to fix other people’s mistakes.” 

Upon returning to New Jersey, Boyer became the pastry chef at De Novo European Pub in Montclair, as well as opened a small specialty desserts business while working on the concept for her own restaurant. 

Cashew Chicken Satay ($10) and Burrata + Poached Beets ($12).

Vanillamore, an open-concept, full-service restaurant and kitchen complete with a large semicircular counter and up to 50 seats, opened in September 2017. 

“In the beginning, people thought we were a bakery and people still sometimes come in here thinking we just sell desserts,” Boyer said. “But we knew there would be an educational component and we knew that we would have to really explain who we are and what we do differently.”

Yes, one still can order ahead a variety of signature 6-inch cakes for $45 each, and yes, the restaurant does still serve a variety of hot chocolates and other specialty beverages. 

But Vanillamore is exactly that — more. 

For example, one can order the $9 house-made ricotta or the $11 brie and fig toast for lunch or even make reservations for dinner to enjoy the $28 red wine braised short ribs with sautéed spinach and cauliflower-leek puree. 

One also can attend weekend brunch, afternoon tea or the monthly five-course chef’s tasting menu. 

But the pièce de résistance is, of course, Vanillamore’s dessert-oriented menu, featuring “Tapas,” such as the $12 Milk & Cookies (a half-dozen espresso hazelnut mousse, chocolate chip and ginger-molasses cookies served alongside vanilla malted milk); “Flights,” such as the $12 Winter Citrus (a sampling of desserts including a fruity tartlet, a refreshing lemon-pudding cake and a sweet polenta upside-down cake); and “Charcuterie,” such as the $24 Chocolate Charcuterie (featuring Vanillamore’s dark and milk chocolate dessert “salamis,” as well as a collection of breads, cookies, cakes, and candied fruit and nuts). 

“These days, we can flip the counter up to five times on a Saturday night and, during the dinner rush, we can turn the dining tables about three times,” Boyer said. 

Though Vanillamore employs 20, Boyer said qualified line cooks are almost impossible to find and keep. 

“Not to mention personalities are really difficult to mesh in a high-pressure kitchen,” she said. “So, I’m here basically 24/7; my mom is here almost every night; my husband is here a couple nights a week; and my dad is here all weekend.

A “Flight” of the Winter Citrus dessert ($12).

“It’s how a small business has to operate — super-lean and super-mean.”

Montclair business owners, however, also have been incredibly supportive of her work, Boyer said, including other restaurateurs. 

“It’s not about competition here,” she said. “The more options there are in town, the more people will want to visit.” 

That is why Boyer said she loves to give back to the community, such as donating 5% of Vanillamore’s sales every Tuesday to a worthy cause, including the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence. 

She also said she only would consider a new location in town. 

“We currently are only limited by our kitchen size and seating options, so, if there were an opportunity to move to a bigger space in town, that definitely would be within our three- to five-year plan,” Boyer said. 

Now 30, Boyer said she also hopes to start planning for something else: a family.  

“I would love kids,” she said. “But, while people are typically challenged with balance and child care, I could not even imagine being pregnant and doing what I am doing right now. I mean, how do you physically carry a child while working 90 hours a week in a busy kitchen? That’s not safe, healthy or realistic. 

“But there has to be a way to figure it out and make it work at some point because that is what I want in my life.” 

Conversation Starter

Reach Risa Magid Boyer of Vanillamore at: hello@vanillamore.com or 973-707-5373.

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Asaro-Angelo says manufacturing in N.J. is on the rise — and he has stats to prove it

Robert Asaro-Angelo, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, came to the second session of its third annual State of the State on manufacturing last Friday with good news.

“For five consecutive years now, New Jersey has added manufacturing jobs, turning around a trend that had previously lasted decades,” he said to the crowd at the County College of Morris in Randolph.

The event, sponsored by the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, brought together more than 600 manufacturing and STEM firms to connect with over 100 legislators, government departments and educators.

Asaro-Angelo said Gov. Phil Murphy is determined to help the sector grow even more.

In addition to awarding NJMEP $596,000 this year to help develop an industrywide apprenticeship model and creating a new Office of Apprenticeship, Asaro-Angelo praised the Murphy administration for reinstating the New Jersey Pathways Leading Apprentices to a College Education, or NJPLACE, program, which establishes partnerships with educational institutions to award college credit to students who participate in registered apprenticeship programs while enrolled.

“New Jersey has registered 162 new apprenticeship programs since this administration walked in the door,” he said. “Our goal is to drive economic development in New Jersey through demand-driven job and educational programs that lead apprentices to learn specialized skills, earn industry-valued credentials and start good-paying careers.

“And, perhaps more importantly, provide all of you a talent ecosystem and pipeline so this state continues to see year-over-year growth in manufacturing for the next five years and beyond.”

John Kennedy, the CEO of the Cedar Knolls group responsible for assisting New Jersey manufacturing companies in becoming more competitive and profitable, partnered with the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey to host the program.

Kennedy, a veteran of the sector, said he sees good things ahead.

“The consensus?” he asked, and then answered. “The industry is far from dead and, if we want to regain our place in innovation, we need to invest more in it.”

Tim Sullivan, CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, agreed. He said advanced manufacturing is one of eight industries the NJEDA is focusing on to retain or improve New Jersey’s competitive advantage in the country.

“We know we need to be stronger and we think that we can do it,” he said.

Clean energy, for example, is a new industry Sullivan said he expects to take root in the state over the next 30 years.

“It represents enormous opportunity for the manufacturing sector,” he said.

Kevin DeSmedt, senior policy adviser for the NJEDA, said that, despite an aging workforce, everchanging skills, an increased need for access to technology and modernization and the challenge of getting young people and their parents engaged with and exposed to manufacturing, stakeholders from the government, educational institutions and the business community have come together like never before to address these issues in manufacturing.

“It has never happened before that the state has said, ‘This is our vision and plan for the industry and here is a list of all the people we need to be involved in this process,’” he said. “We want you to actively reach out because we need to hear from you, your ideas and perspectives.”

Anthony Russo, president of CIANJ, said his group is behind the sector.

“CIANJ strongly believes that when New Jersey companies ‘make something,’ no matter what that is, wealth is generated and investment comes back to New Jersey, improving the quality of lives of all citizens,” he said.

“Manufacturing is the backbone of our economy and should be protected and enhanced through sound policies and legislative vigilance. CIANJ looks forward to working with all stakeholders in growing our economy and strengthening our workforce.”

Having recently been named chairman of the New Jersey State Employment and Training Commission Apprenticeship Committee, Kennedy himself will be helping move the apprenticeship process forward in all sectors of New Jersey by better facilitating collaboration between stakeholders in education and workforce development, including using the Pro-Action Education Network model to scale statewide apprenticeships via NJMEP’s contacts, resources and research.

Currently, New Jersey manufacturing produces $156 billion in annual output, with more than 11,000 manufacturing, STEM and transportation, logistics and distribution companies employing more than 1 million in the state.

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Campbell Soup board chairman retires, former CEO McLoughlin takes over

Campbell Soup Co.‘s chairman of the board Les C. Vinney has retired, the Camden-based company announced Thursday, with Keith R. McLoughin taking over the post, effective immediately.

Vinney said his retirement was due to personal reasons, but will remain a director until April 15.

“It has been an honor to serve as a director and as chairman of the Campbell Soup Company. The board is fortunate to have a strong and capable leader in Keith, whose steady direction has been indispensable over the last year. He has been an advisor and asset to me, our fellow board members, Campbell’s leadership team and our employees. His role as interim president and CEO of Campbell make him uniquely qualified and the logical choice to take on the role of chairman at this important time in Campbell’s history,” Vinney said.

McLoughlin served as interim CEO and president at Campbell following the retirement of Denise Morrison in May 2018 until Mark Clouse was named to the role in December 2018. McLoughlin has been a director at Campbell since 2015. Before joining the board, he was CEO and president of AB Electrolux and spent more than 20 years in senior leadership roles at E. I. duPont de Nemours and Co.

“I am honored to serve as chairman of a company with iconic brands and many talented employees whom I have come to know well in the last year. During my time as interim president and CEO, I gained a deeper knowledge of the company’s operations, and in working closely with leadership, believe we have made significant progress in focusing the company. I look forward to continuing to work with Mark, the Campbell leadership team and my fellow directors as we continue to transform Campbell and create shareholder value,” McLoughlin said.

Vinney joined the board in 2003 and served as chairman since 2015. Prior to that, he was CEO and president of STERIS Corp. Before that, he was senior vice president and chief financial officer at Goodrich Corp.

“Les has made many important contributions during his 16 years on the Campbell board and provided critical leadership during a pivotal period in our company’s history. On behalf of the entire Campbell board of directors, we thank Les for his service and wish him well in retirement,” McLoughlin said.

Campbell said it had also appointed J.P. Bilbrey, former CEO of The Hershey Co., to the board. Also, Sara Mathew, member of the board, has retired. Bilbrey’s appointment was part of its agreement with Third Point in November 2018, stipulating that Campbell consult with Third Point on the appointment of a third director by its May 2019 board meeting.

“We are thrilled to welcome J.P. and his 40 years of experience in the food industry to Campbell’s board as part of our ongoing director refreshment process. His extensive knowledge of the changing consumer landscape and the North American market will be a tremendous asset to our board,” McLoughlin said.

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At Food Processors conference, Siekerka calls on businesses to train next generation

When it comes to training the next generation of skilled workers, companies need to be front and center, leading the charge.

“My big ask from you is I need you at the center of the table,” said New Jersey Business & Industry Association CEO and President Michele Siekerka.

Siekerka was speaking to an auditorium filled with over 100 food and beverage business professionals Friday at the New Jersey Food Processors Association’s 2019 Annual Conference at the Crowne Plaza Princeton in Plainsboro. There, she delivered the keynote address.

She was echoing something that’s been on repeat recently in New Jersey’s business community: The state is doing well, but could be doing much better.

“This requires some time, it requires an investment and some money,” she said. “But, if you can help to inform your future workforce, think about the return on investment that it would have for you.”

Sierkerka, like many others, praised the state’s location and access, and applauded, as she puts it, vibrant metropolitan areas on the rise such as New Brunswick, Newark, Long Branch and Camden. But she criticized, just like those same people have, the state’s affordability and business climate.

“When an overwhelming majority of graduates, when they are the largest percentage of a moving population leaving the state of New Jersey, why are we not concerned about that?” Siekerka said.

Sierkerka said the state also is losing a lot of K-12 students to higher education institutions outside the state, particularly Pennsylvania, Delaware and Southern schools.

“Driving up and down the Jersey Turnpike, I see billboards from Pennsylvania schools and the University of Delaware,” she said. “Our own schools don’t do the greatest jobs at recruiting kids.”

She said the state needs to establish a brand for higher education and post-secondary education, because, as she puts it, what kid can’t get behind a message like Penn State’s “We Are!”?

But it’s also the price of New Jersey’s colleges and universities. Students can drive just a state over and get a cheaper education in Pennsylvania.

Disinvestment from technical and vocational schools does not improve the situation either, Siekerka said. Companies need to invest in experiential learning, apprenticeships, internships and summer opportunities.

She said they also need to be honest with the next generation of workers, because they’re dropping out of school with incredible amounts of debt. This generation is the largest living at home right after graduation, she said.

But Siekerka remains very bullish on New Jersey. While very practical on New Jersey’s business climate and how there are many improvements to be made, she said the state’s post-secondary education and diversity make it worth fighting for.

“Alumni from our institutions (have) the highest salaries across the nation,” she said. “Our graduation rate from post-secondary education is the second-highest.”

The focus of the conference was attracting talent in a competitive labor market, the best practices for developing future leaders and retaining talent with a focus on total well-being.

NJFPA is a Trenton-based organization of manufacturers and suppliers of food and agricultural products joined to promote best practices, share information and expand the food industry of New Jersey and the surrounding region.

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PSEG’s LaRossa insists utility will close nuclear plants without subsidy

Public Service Enterprise Group is fighting back. Again.

New Jersey’s largest utility is doubling down on its promise to shutter three nuclear plants in South Jersey if it does not get approval for up to $300 million in state subsidies annually for the next three years.

Whether or not PSEG should receive the zero emission credits, or ZEC, is a question the state Board of Public Utilities is deliberating on and will have an answer for in April.

Ralph LaRossa, CEO and president of PSEG Power, told ROI-NJ on Thursday that the nuclear plants can’t compete with cheaper options and would have to close if they are not subsidized for the next three years.

“As part of that application process, you have to commit that you are closing the plants (if the subsidy is not approved) and we indicated that with an officer’s signature in that document,” LaRossa said.

If it sounds like the same fight that took place last summer, that’s because it is.

Earlier this month, the state’s rate counsel said the truckload of documents provided to the BPU show the utility is not in dire financial need of the subsidy.

In a 44-page response Thursday, PSEG said the claims made by the rate counsel are relitigating old issues that were brought up during the legislative battle, and that the rate counsel is unfairly characterizing some of the prices and financial information.

The unfair characterization is namely using the highest prices available to show revenue, rather than the mix of fluctuations for on-peak and off-peak pricing, according to PSEG.

The rate counsel and other opponents of the proposal are also suggesting that PSEG is using inaccurate methodologies to calculate the losses the plants could incur.

In the absence of nuclear energy, gas and coal plants would pick up the losses, as was already evidenced by the closure of one plant last year, LaRossa said.

PSEG said there was a shift of approximately 20 percent of electric generation from nuclear to natural gas as a result of the shutdown of Exelon’s Oyster Creek plant in September.

LaRossa said PSEG has consistently stated that keeping the nuclear plants open helps provide New Jersey a clean energy option in the buildup to stronger wind and solar energy production (both of which PSEG has dabbled in).

Nuclear is a clean energy option, but has fierce competition from cheaper and more abundant gas production — and the process for selling energy into the grid, which operates electricity for the entire region, prioritizes cheaper over cleaner energy in an annual bid process, he said.

That, LaRossa said, is why the subsidy is necessary. It helps to cover the costs of operating nuclear energy, which operates at the same pace throughout the day rather than with more control over how much is burning, like with coal and gas.

“The market is going to the next-cheapest product,” he said. “If the marketplace is not paying enough, that’s where the ZEC application comes in. It’s going to be as competitive as any other; for us, we are going to be compensated like we should be.

“(If) we know we have this other revenue source — because I can bid on 10 if I know I need 12 to run, because I get two from this other revenue source. If I wasn’t getting the two from someplace else, I have to bid 12 and then I’m going to be out of the market.”

And the threat of closing down all three plants, rather than just one or two, is both a cost-benefit issue and affects PSEG’s attractiveness as an employer.

“You operate as a whole fleet,” he said.

Despite lower costs of some labor and reduced purchasing of nuclear rods, if only one or two plants closed, the shared cost of all three plants make it an efficient endeavor for PSEG, LaRossa said.

The costs of operating just one nuclear plant cannot be sustained and would reflect poorly on PSEG for hiring future talent because it only has one plant, he said.

The rate counsel has been fighting back since the time the legislation was discussed, saying PSEG is using taxpayers to run its business.

Meanwhile, PSEG has maintained that lowering the cost of energy is an important step for the business to take to serve its customers — the very same taxpayers.

“From a carbon-free generation solution, this is a much-needed solution to keep around,” LaRossa said.

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Murphy announces $2.8M in apprenticeship grants — with goal of hiring nearly 500 apprentices in next year

Gov. Phil Murphy has talked about building apprenticeship programs in New Jersey to help create more middle-class jobs in the state since he began running for the office.

On Monday, he began to make good on that promise.

Murphy announced grant awards totaling $2.8 million to seven New Jersey businesses and higher education institutions for training programs. The hope is that they will employ 480 new apprentices within the next 12 months, starting them on a new career path.

State officials said the grant funds support a diverse range of programs. They are designed to promote economic growth by building experience in high-demand industry sectors such as advanced manufacturing, information technology, software development, clean energy and utilities, health care, and more. The funds support good-paying, skilled jobs for which there is expected to be a demand in New Jersey for years to come.

The grant recipients will begin or expand apprenticeship programs to train machinists, skilled tradesmen, auto technicians, tool & die makers, medical and lab techs, chemical techs, human resources staff, and others. Apprentices will earn at least $15 per hour.

“Our vision for a stronger and fairer New Jersey starts with workforce development,” Murphy said. “With these investments, we are providing residents of New Jersey with the necessary skills and training they need for good-paying jobs that will help move our economy forward.”

The grants are as follows:

  • New Jersey Community College Consortium ($938,825): Machine operator 1, machinist, mechatronics technician, production technician, workforce development analyst;
  • New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program ($569,000): Industrial manufacturing production technician, technical sales rep, certified logistics and control technician;
  • Montclair State University ($523,280): Building repairer, carpenter, electrician, HVAC, plumber/steamfitter, child advocate, child welfare social worker, child counselor, mental health counselor, medical technologist, analytical chemist, instrumentalist chemist;
  • Motors Management Corp. ($440,00): Automobile mechanic and diesel mechanic;
  • ApprenticeIT ($169,290): Computer support specialist, desktop support technician;
  • Interplex ($93,910): Tool & die maker;
  • Employers Association of New Jersey ($24,000): Human resources administration.

Funding comes from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Growing Apprenticeship in Nontraditional Sectors, or GAINS, competitive grant, which was announced last fall.

The GAINS program promotes the creation and expansion of U.S. Labor Department-approved Registered Apprenticeship programs that drive economic development through skills and educational attainment and create paths to better-paying careers and advanced industry credentials.

The grant program also promotes diversity in Registered Apprenticeship programs by encouraging the hiring of underrepresented groups such as veterans, people with disabilities and ex-offenders.

The announcement was made at Sansone Auto Mall, part of the Motors Management Corp., which is receiving $440,000 to jumpstart its automotive technician and diesel mechanic program.

Sansone CEO John Pugliese said the grant will make a difference.

“Over the next several years, it is anticipated that New Jersey could experience a shortage of up to 25,000 technicians, as current technicians retire and the next generation gravitates to other occupations,” he said.

“The GAINS program will allow us to expand our apprenticeship program to various vocational high schools and community colleges. With this program, each apprentice will have the opportunity to become a Master Technician and have a meaningful and rewarding career.”

Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said the grants will prove to be invaluable.

“Apprenticeships build a pipeline of skilled workers, create a viable career pathway for students and allow businesses to remain competitive and thrive,” he said. “We know that this investment in a stronger, fairer economy is good for everyone.”

Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis agreed.

“Apprenticeship and a college degree are often viewed as separate career tracks, but they’re really complementary,” she said.

“College students need workplace experiences before graduation, and apprentices gain from classroom instruction in subjects that reinforce what they learn on the job. Employers and students alike will benefit from the apprenticeship grants announced today.”

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge) said the grants will be a role in the big-picture outlook of the state.

“New Jersey is at the center of economic prosperity and innovation,” he said. “Creating different pathways for professional development is critically important and reaffirms our commitment to helping businesses and their employees succeed.

“This unique partnership invests in our workers and businesses and will help to promote a strong economy.”

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NJAW invests $300M on statewide upgrades in 2018

Voorhees-based New Jersey American Water announced in 2018, it had invested more than $300 million on system upgrades and improvement projects throughout the state.

“At New Jersey American Water, our goal is to provide safe, reliable water service to all of our customers,” Deborah Degillio, president of NJAW, said. “From source to tap, our team of professionals continuously monitor and work hard to maintain our facilities to ensure they operate efficiently, meet all regulatory standards and deliver the best quality water. Investment now helps sustain our current operations while ensuring resiliency for the future — all at the benefit of our customers.”

Improvement highlights for the year include:

  • $102.4 million to install more than 67 miles of main to replace and rehabilitate aging pipe;
  • $2 million in leak detection equipment;
  • $100 million to improve water treatment facilities around the state;
  • $13 million to replace 1,029 fire hydrants and 1,475 valves;
  • $15.2 million to replace 11,600 services lines;
  • $4 million to rehabilitate six water tanks.

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