A coalition of executives from some of New Jersey’s largest companies are moving ahead with an initiative to get the state back to work.
In a virtual event hosted by Gov. Phil Murphy, the New Jersey CEO Council pledged to hire 30,000 New Jersey workers from historically underserved communities by the end of the decade.
The group also committed to spend $250 million on procurement with state-based, diverse companies by 2025.
Murphy called the effort “a potential game-changer” for populations “that have been hit hardest by the pandemic” and thanked the corporations “for stepping up in a time of need.”
The coalition stemmed from meetings with Murphy’s Restart and Recovery Commission, a group formed in April to advise the administration on how to safely reopen New Jersey’s economy.
It is made up of chief executive officers from BD, Campbell Soup Company, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Prudential Financial, PSE&G, RWJBarnabas Health, Verizon and Zoetis.
Recovery Will Be Lengthy Process
A newly released study found it could take years for the state’s economy to recover from the pandemic. The same report, completed by Rutgers University Economic Advisory Service, said a complete rebound from job losses may take decades.
According to the findings, 16.7% of New Jersey’s 4.2 million jobs were lost between February and May in restaurants, hotels, retail, recreation, entertainment and personal services.
Ken Frazier, coalition chairman and Merck’s CEO, said, “In this unprecedented time of economic upheaval, it is incumbent on good corporate citizens to step up and help ensure that New Jersey not only emerges from this pandemic, but does so as a more resilient and equitable state.”
“The council’s work demonstrates the power of New Jersey’s business community to drive meaningful change,” said Charles Lowrey, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial. “Through these commitments, we will set a course for a broad and equitable recovery, with substantive support for residents who need it most.”
PSE&G Chairman, President and CEO Ralph Izzo said, “Equity is a leading factor in our vision for New Jersey’s clean energy transformation. PSE&G’s investments in energy efficiency, carbon free electricity and fortifying New Jersey’s energy infrastructure against the effects of climate change, and our partnership with the New Jersey Department of Labor, will help us create thousands of jobs and new economic opportunities for diverse suppliers throughout the state.”
Business Community Called On To Join Effort
The CEOs are also challenging other businesses in New Jersey to create an additional 40,000 jobs and $250 million in local purchasing.
Hackensack Meridian Health, one of the state’s largest employers, has stepped forward to join the effort.
Robert Garrett, Hackensack Meridian Health CEO, said, “Our state and nation have a lot of work to do to address the disparities that are evident in many spheres of life, including health care. Working together with the Governor, along with other businesses and industries throughout the state, we are committed to driving positive change and providing more opportunities for our diverse communities.”
Coalition Announces Programs
The coalition said it plans to create several programs to meet its goals, including the first state-wide and first government-support Career Impact Bond Fund and a Procurement Center of Excellence.
Career Impact Bonds (CIBs) are a form of income share agreement, designed to upskill low-income and underserved learners and workers to achieve economic mobility, made possible by leveraging philanthropic, corporate, and for the first time, government funding.
CIBs pay for the cost of the training programs and wrap-around services on behalf of the student beneficiaries. Students then pay back the costs over time once they attain and maintain employment with a salary above a certain threshold. The repaid money is recycled to fund training for future students.
In addition, the CEO Council plans to help establish a Procurement Center of Excellence to provide resources and training to support the growth of diverse and small NJ-based suppliers to prepare them to work with the world’s largest corporations.