Leaving N.J.: Officials say sometimes there's little that can be done

When two companies said goodbye to New Jersey last week —taking 500 jobs with them – state business leaders were upset. But they also were realistic.

Michael Egenton, senior vice president of government relations for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, said sometimes location decisions are just "hit or miss depending on the company."

And there’s little anyone can do.

"You can roll out the red carpet and you're not going to change their mind," Egenton said.

Egenton was referencing the recent example of Ocean Spray leaving Bordentown for Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, but he could have just as easily been talking about the moves last week.

CareFusion Corp., a San Diego-based maker of medical products, said it would shutter its Totowa factory and lay off 390 employees in the process.

A day later, cold cut maker Dietz & Watson said it would move 110 jobs to Philadelphia from Delanco, where workers had been displaced since September by a fire that leveled its warehouse and distribution center.

Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Mount Laurel), who hails from the district where Dietz & Watson was located, said many people worked to keep Dietz & Watson here — and many people will work to bring in another company.

He’s already moved on, dealing with the reality of it all.

“While I am certainly disappointed in the decision by Dietz & Watson to move its facility to Pennsylvania, our job is to look forward,” he said. “We made a concerted full-court press to really get this done, working in partnership with state, county and local Delanco officials.”

For CareFusion, the operations at what was once the Vital Signs plant in Totowa will be moved to a site in Mexicali, Mexico, according to published reports. The move will bring 390 layoffs.

Meantime, Dietz & Watson said it will nearly double its footprint in Philadelphia's Tacony section, where it has had its headquarters for some 75 years.

And the move comes despite a $3.1 million tax credit offered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority in February, when the company floated the idea of rebuilding in Burlington County.

Instead, it will build a $50 million facility in Philadelphia with the help of $2.1 million in state grants and eligibility for more than $12 million in other loans and funding, company and Pennsylvania state officials announced last week.

Singleton, meanwhile, will look for someone to take Dietz & Watson’s place.

“Now we will re-double our efforts to find someone else to fill this void,” he said.


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