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Just How Important Are State Incentives? Ask Prism's Gene Diaz
re-nj.com
October 10, 2017
Original Article

Just how important were New Jersey's incentives programs in luring Modern Meadow from Brooklyn to the former Hoffmann-LaRoche campus in northern New Jersey?

"New York went after them as hard as we've ever seen New York go after another enterprise," Eugene Diaz, principal with Prism Capital Partners, said of the biotech firm. "And New Jersey is an expensive market to do business in. It just is — and while we've got some good attributes in terms of labor and in terms of location, there are some (firms) that just don't need all of that and will go elsewhere."

Modern Meadow — which develops collagen proteins to make leather, rather than using animals — was awarded a 10-year, $32 million tax credit from the state Economic Development Authority this summer as an incentive to move its headquarters to New Jersey. The company in August inked a 72,900-square-foot lease at the former Roche campus, which Prism is repositioning as a mixed-use, urban-style destination for corporations and research.

Speaking at NAIOP New Jersey's recent CEO Perspective forum, Diaz said his firm has additional leases in the works at the Roche campus that could total 1 million square feet. But he noted that "there isn't a deal that we're doing that doesn't have incentives coming along with it — and our surrounding states are getting more competitive, also."

It's why Diaz was emphatic that New Jersey's next governor should keep the state's incentives in place, rather than scaling them back. He considers job creation the best way to grow the state, he said, noting that "every society's success going back eons has come down to its ability to keep its people safe and to enable them to put food on the table and provide shelter."

"The only way you do that in this economy is to give people jobs," Diaz said. "It's an incredibly globally competitive marketplace, and for New Jersey to survive in a high-cost environment, we've got to get these jobs in here, we've got to continue the incentive process."