New York City jobs could be lured away to New Jersey if a bill sitting on Governor Corzine's desk gets signed.
The bill promises up to $30 million of incentives each year to digital media or film companies that move to or expand in the state.
"This is an emerging and exploding industry," a sponsor of the bill, Senator Joseph Kyrillos Jr., said yesterday. "These jobs will be created somewhere, and we want to get a fair share of them in the state of New Jersey."
This could spell trouble for New York, which prides itself on being the country's press and broadcast capital. Already, television giant NBC is planning to move hundreds of Internet-focused jobs to its so-called digital media campus in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., from Manhattan, an NBC source confirmed this week. It has been a strong advocate for the bill and even hired a lobbyist, William Pascrell III, to promote the legislation in Trenton. Mr. Pascrell said the legislation, if passed, would help subsidize the relocation, although he did not have a cost estimate.
"The bill is encouraging news for them," Mr. Pascrell said. "In the unlikely event that the bill does not become law, I suspect that NBC is going to reconsider" its move to Englewood Cliffs.
The bill, which gives a tax credit to businesses to help recover expenditures for new facilities, computers, and salaries, requires companies to spend at least $2 million of production costs within New Jersey in order to qualify. The legislation is aimed at companies that produce film and other content in digital form.
There is a chance that the bill could be scaled back or vetoed by Mr. Corzine. "The administration does have concerns about the cost, and about whether we're getting bang for the buck in terms of job creation," a spokesman for Mr. Corzine, Brendan Gilfillan, said. He is expected to make a decision by November.
Critics of the legislation see it as the most recent front in the war among the states, in which New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, and others offer increasingly enticing tax incentives in an effort to attract businesses to relocate within their borders.
"New Jersey and New York spend a lot of time and money on trying to lure companies with subsidies, when we ought to get together to invest in our education and infrastructure systems," a policy analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective, Sarah Stecker, said.
New Jersey has a well-established incentive program, the Business Employment Incentive Program, which has helped bring thousands of jobs to the state from Manhattan in exchange for tax breaks.
NBC is to receive as much as $4 million in BEIP subsidies at its Englewood Cliffs site. Last year, in one of the largest such deals, Citigroup was awarded $37 million in incentives over 10 years in exchange for moving 1,200 jobs to Jersey City from Lower Manhattan.
New York City doles out its share of subsidies as well. In the past 20 years, it has pledged more than $75 million to NBC in exchange for promised job creation, according to the subsidy watchdog group Good Jobs New York.
Mr. Kyrillos, a sponsor of the digital media bill, said the reasoning behind incentive policy was not to have a subsidy battle with New York, although he acknowledged that some competition is inevitable.
"New York, by definition, because it's New York, will get its chunk" of job creation, he said. "I want New Jersey to win its share."
Adding to the allure of New Jersey are the cut-rate office rents, which are often less than half that charged for high-end space in Midtown Manhattan.
Companies are considering New Jersey "much more intensely, because not every business can support the kind of rent levels that are being kicked around Manhattan right now," an executive vice president at the brokerage firm Newmark Knight Frank, Mark Weiss, said.