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South Jersey Officials Focus On Rebuilding Better [AUDIO]

Long Beach Island and the rest of Southern Ocean County is clearing up any doubts in people’s mind, they will be ready for summer.

Economist Joel Naroff
Economist Joel Naroff addresses the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce’s ninth annual ‘State of Southern Ocean County’ meeting (Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media NJ)

During Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce’s ninth annual ‘State of Southern Ocean County’ meeting, held in the Sea Oak Country Club in Little Egg Harbor Tuesday, speakers including Assemblywoman Diane Gove, managing director of Rockport analytics Ken McGill, and economist Joel Naroff discussed how the local economy can be rejuvenated after the storm.

Naroff, who was the keynote speaker for the event, noted the challenge for the shore will be the speed with which actual recovery occurs and the image of recovery occurs.

“It’s one thing being back up and running and it’s another thing to let everyone know you’re back up and running.”

He notes the states needs to create a unified message, rather than each individual town focusing on their own marketing campaign.

“One picture of one city being still underwater or having their amusement park in the ocean, gives the image for the whole shore that the problems persist.”

He says the issue it’s a statewide problem because of the shore’s importance to New Jersey’s economy.

Naroff says while in the short term the storm was detrimental to the shore economy, it has the potential to create a rebound effect in the long term. Explaining the shore has an opportunity to do a lot of rebuilding that it wasn’t able to do before, but it must be done to make the shore truly better not just return the status quo.

“If that’s done, that’s an opportunity for the towns to position themselves for future trends. Not just be a function of what past trends made them.”

He adds towns that have lost tax revenue because of destroyed homes have the opportunity to rebuild with more expensive properties, which will mean a larger tax base. That will have a double sided effect.

“People who might have been able to afford it, can’t afford it anymore. On the other side it creates a greater tax base so that the cities and towns can do more things to make it more attractive.”

Naroff notes it’s hard to give a clear economic picture for people because with the fiscal cliff, Congress has stunted several quarter of solid economic recovery. He claimed the “cliff” was artificially created by Congress, and likened their ability to solve the problem to a firefighter starting a fire and then putting it out.

While the state’s economy has been lagging behind the national numbers, Naroff says this spring, summer, and especially fall will bring the Garden State a boost thanks to the rebuilding efforts.

“Think of all that money that we want to get from the national economy, from the federal government to use to spend in this state to recover. That’s going to be concentrated in a relatively short period of time.”

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