The Statehouse in Trenton
By Joshua Burd
The state Economic Development Authority is seeking information from another three companies that were awarded tax credits under its embattled incentive programs, amid ongoing scrutiny of the volume of awards and jobs pledged by the recipients.
The EDA this week announced that it has sent letters to GoBrands Inc. and Sandoz Inc., which are an online delivery startup and a pharmaceutical company, respectively. Meantime, agency staff has reached out to Express Scripts Pharmacy Inc. as part of an effort to clarify information given to the state in connection with awards under the now-expired Grow New Jersey program.
The three companies have been promised a combined $78.3 million in tax credits over 10 years in return for creating or retaining hundreds of jobs, but state officials are now reviewing those awards as part of an initiative by a task force appointed by Gov. Phil Murphy. In the case of Express Scripts, published reports this week said the EDA had planned to vote on whether to reduce the company’s $40 million tax credit award from 2013 by nearly $10 million, as it had fallen short of its job commitments, but the vote was tabled pending new information.
The EDA said it was hoping to afford the three companies the opportunity to respond to a range of questions, including discrepancies in their applications and related legal questionnaire.
“Any significant change to a company’s Grow NJ award, including a reduction in the amount of the award, a suspension, or termination may require an action of the NJEDA Board,” the authority wrote in a news release. “This outreach is the first step in a process that will to allow NJEDA staff to make informed decisions, which may include recommendations to the Board for any potential actions, if warranted.”
The outreach follows a similar request sent in late June to six other Grow New Jersey recipients, including several firms with ties to George E. Norcross III, the powerful South Jersey Democratic leader. Murphy’s task force has raised concerns that Norcross and his allies influenced the legislation that created the subsidy program, which lapsed late last month after the governor and state lawmakers had been unable to agree on new incentive programs.
The EDA is also seeking information from Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, which is facing major legal trouble but is slated to receive a 10-year, $40 million Grow New Jersey package to compel it to move its U.S. headquarters from Pennsylvania to Parsippany.
Combined, the six entities have been awarded tax credits totaling $585 million over 10 years under Grow New Jersey.