With the incredible growth of this sector in recent years, could logistics help make New Jersey cliff-proof? I think so, but only if we take steps to address serious workforce challenges, especially those related to affordability and accessible transportation. With the increasing likelihood of a recession in 2020, we need to act now. The importance of the port region to New Jersey’s economy cannot be overstated, and continued investment is critical. We also need to solve the “last mile” conundrum that presents transportation and lifestyle challenges.
No one infrastructure project has the potential to cripple our economy, disrupt our lives, lower real estate values and drive employers to seek alternative locations than the Gateway Project to expand and repair the Hudson River rail tunnels and replace the Portal North Bridge. Why, then, haven’t our local, state and national leaders yet secured the funding, approvals and entitlements needed to get this project done, despite the wakeup call back in 2012 when Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on a single tunnel in an area responsible for 20 percent of the U.S. GDP?
Experts see a significant conundrum in the office market, as every economic indicator used to forecast absorption performed at or above the forecast level. Further, closely related macroeconomic variables — such as office-using employment — grew steadily, meaning that more office employees were added without much corresponding space leased over the previous six months. While the first quarter reading of just 1.3 million square feet absorbed may be a one-time anomaly, it cannot be ruled out that a structural shift in the office space market has occurred or is occurring.
Supply or cargo chains are complex ecosystems involving multiple organizations, infrastructure modes, carriers and workers that comprise the movement of commodities from their point of origin (factory, farm, mine, etc.) to the retailer and consumer. They include beneficial cargo owners (BCOs), ocean carriers, port authorities, regulatory agencies, marine terminal operators, port labor, rail and motor carriers, warehouse, distribution, fulfillment and e-commerce centers and retail businesses. A problem at any link in this chain can cause the entire system to back up.
I am convinced more than ever that forward-thinking New Jersey suburbs are poised for a comeback. Many city residents, especially those in their 20s and 60s will seek alternate residences. Towns that have invested in their infrastructure and assets for the long term and are ready to accommodate this exodus of consumers and their preferences will be able to compete for this wealth of talent and the resources they bring to the community.
In listening to the presentations by the eight finalists for NAIOP’s annual Deal of the Year competition, what struck me most was the collaborative nature and level of cooperation that is taking place among all the participants in both the public and private sectors. It wasn’t always this way.
The shortage of labor with the right skillset and talent is being felt across all sectors and is much more pronounced in some parts of our state. Building owners, businesses, communities and government officials — all of whom are in the real estate business, need to take steps to attract the younger generations who are today’s and tomorrow’s consumers and workforce.
Admittedly, “this (tax reform) legislation represents an important victory for NAIOP members and the commercial real estate industry. The first major tax reform in more than three decades, the Act recognizes the important contribution that commercial real estate is making to the economy by supporting pro-growth initiatives and acknowledging the long-term nature of commercial real estate investment.”
While many New Jersey residents and business owners are rightfully concerned about the potential adverse impacts from federal tax reform measures at the same time as increases to state taxes are being discussed by Gov.-elect Phil Murphy and our Legislature, let’s not overlook the possible ways that local mayors can help to ameliorate this situation.
NAIOP’s premier industry event this fall was CRE.Converge 2017 in Chicago, which attracted nearly 1,500 attendees from across North America. Held Oct. 10 to 12, the conference provided valuable insights into cutting-edge trends in the commercial real estate industry and projections for the future.