Building, jobs, lifestyles, drive Jersey City’s boomlet
It's impossible to duplicate location, but towns across the Garden State may still benefit from taking a page or two out of Jersey City's playbook.
In just the past 12 months, the diverse Hudson County municipality has created more than 9,000 jobs, brought in more than 150 small businesses and continued what's being described as Jersey City's greatest construction activity ever.
According to Mayor Steven Fulop, much of the success can be attributed to a $1.2 million public-private marketing campaign aimed at bringing development and other economic activity to the city.
"We put a lot of effort into making sure that people understand all the good things that are here," Fulop said.
January numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor posted Jersey City's unemployment rate at 6.2 percent, down more than four points compared to when Fulop took office in June of 2013.
In addition to the uptick in small businesses, a number of national and international companies are either relocating to Jersey City or expanding operations there, including JPMorgan Chase and Nautica.
James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, said Jersey City can never be overlooked due to its close proximity to New York City, but it's also benefiting from what he calls the "greatest age structure transformation in history."
"What you have are baby boomers in their 60s, exiting the labor force," Hughes said. "Some of them will leave suburbia, but others really want a walking environment, live-work-play environment."
On the other end of the spectrum, folks in their 20s who are tired of the suburban lifestyle are moving toward the hustle and bustle of urban locales such as Jersey City and Hoboken.
According to the Fulop Administration, there are 6,000 units under construction in the city, with another 18,000 approved for the future.
Hughes said a similar pattern of multifamily housing development can be spotted in other cities along the Northeast Corridor and Raritan Valley Line, but on a much smaller scale.
Fulop insisted his city's approach to attracting business and "shepherding a great renaissance" can serve as a model to not only other cities in New Jersey, but urban areas across the country.