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NJLM's Life Sciences Committee
Supports New Jersey's
Largest Business Sector

Mayor Joseph Pannullo
By Joseph Pannullo
Mayor, East Hanover Township
Chair, NJLM Committee
on Life Sciences
Examining a patient's ear.

The Mayors Committee on Life Sciences is a joint endeavor of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities and We Work for Health New Jersey (WWFH-NJ). Founded in 2010, the committee currently has 35 members. They work to promote economic development and innovation by educating legislators, policy makers and the public about the importance of the life sciences industry to New Jersey and its local communities. They also seek to publicize the practices within host communities that help grow and nurture the industry.

New Jersey is home to many of the great minds that work each day to develop cures and medical products that make our lives better and more meaningful. A recent study released by Rutgers showed that New Jersey based Biotechnology, Medical Technology and Pharmaceutical companies added an estimated $23 billion to the New Jersey’s Gross Domestic Product in 2009-10, $42.8 billion in operating expenditures that supported more than 200,000 jobs and generated $7.5 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue. The life sciences industry spent a total of $1.51 billion on construction projects in 2010.

Tip O’Neil once said, “All politics is local.” As the United States Congress continues to discuss possible changes to health care policies, the life science industry is working to be heard. We want to make sure our ability to discover new life-saving treatments and cures and our ability to remain good corporate neighbors won’t be negatively affected by well-intentioned but ill-conceived legislation. Decisions in Washington can have a direct impact on life in our state, especially when they threaten to impact New Jersey’s largest business sector.

A recent Battelle Partnership study cited the impact of a $20 billion economic event (revenue decrease) on the life sciences industry. Some of the disturbing statistics included the following.

  • In the first year, New Jersey would lose 3,702 direct life science jobs and would cause 12,948 "spin-off" jobs to disappear, generating a total loss of 16,650 jobs.

  • Industry spending in New Jersey would decrease by $2.4 billion, triggering an additional $2.3 billion decrease in spin-off spending, for a total New Jersey economic activity loss of approximately $4.7 billion.

  • New Jersey state and local governments would lose $19.5 million in direct taxes paid by the industry, and $113.3 million in indirect taxes currently generated from spin-off activity, for a total tax loss of $132.8 million.

Mayors of towns that host life sciences companies know first-hand the important role their facilities and employees play in supporting the local economy and the municipal budget. From the local property taxes paid by the company, to the local commerce generated by its employees, to the philanthropic contributions made to a town’s civic and charitable organizations, municipalities derive many positive benefits from New Jersey’s life science industry. During these uncertain economic times, it is imperative for elected officials to be aware of the benefits the industry offers, and the importance of nurturing its continued development in the state. Mayors are ideally suited to speak about and represent the people of New Jersey, and can serve as the bridge between Main Street and Washington on issues discussed at the federal, state and local levels.

Whether you currently host a life science facility in your town, or whether you simply wish to learn more about this industry, I would be grateful if you would consider joining the Mayors Committee on Life Sciences. I also invite you to attend a breakfast program on November 16 (during the League of Municipalities Conference) at the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center, where we will be awarding the first annual “Life Sciences Champions Award.” For more information, please contact Lucy Montgomery, State Coordinator for We Work for Health New Jersey at 215-766-7951 or lucyhmontgomery@gmail.com.

 

Originally published in New Jersey Municipalities, Volume 88, Number 8, November 2011

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