The New Jersey Society for Environmental, Economic Development (NJ SEED) was born during the recession of the early 1970s. The New Jersey business community was frustrated with a seemingly unending stream of environmental laws and regulations that stifled growth. New Jersey’s labor leaders were frustrated with the continuing decline of manufacturing and with the lack of incentives to create job growth, especially in the private sector.
Early in the administration of Governor Brendan Byrne, a “Construction Workers March on Trenton” was organized with the assistance of AFL-CIO State President Charlie Marciante and New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce Vice President and chief lobbyist Lew Applegate.
On the day of the “March,” some 65,000 workers crowded onto State Street in front of the State House to hear business and labor leaders call for measures that would stimulate New Jersey’s stagnant economy.
As a result of that great day, business and labor leaders continued to meet. NJ SEED founders, in addition to Marciante and Applegate, included John Maddocks of PSE&G, Ken Pyle of Atlantic Electric, Len Ruppert of the New Jersey Petroleum Council, Bob Briant, Sr. of the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association, and contract lobbyist Art Young.
NJ SEED became the leading voice for those issues that improved the state’s economic environment while maintaining protection of its physical environment. Issues such as energy production and water resource development, including expansion of nuclear energy facilities and the creation of the Tocks Island reservoir water conservation project, were NJ SEED priorities. NJ SEED also advocated reasonable regulations to encourage housing development to meet the needs of New Jersey’s increasing population.
Twenty-five years ago, under the leadership of President Art Young, SEED conducted its first Government Affairs Seminar in Atlantic City. The event was so successful that Governor Tom Kean observed during his luncheon speech that he “had to come to Atlantic City to be with his cabinet,” since so many of them were attending the conference. The annual seminar has become a fixture among government insiders and continues to foster substantive discussions among labor, business and government leaders.
Nineteen years ago, NJ SEED held its first Congressional Briefing in Washington. Each spring since, NJ SEED members have traveled to Washington for updates on key federal issues, and for the opportunity to meet with our United States Senators and House Members over breakfast to discuss matters of importance to our economy from a federal perspective.
NJ SEED annually produces two Briefing Books – one dedicated to state issues and the other to federal issues. These two booklets provide a virtual blueprint for sound economic growth.
Today, NJ SEED continues to be the leading voice in New Jersey for environmental balance and economic growth. Issues such as maintaining our state’s vital transportation infrastructure and its all-important port facilities, seeking to create a more efficient regulatory process, strengthening our essential telecommunications industry and providing for our security in these threatening times continue to be the focus of NJ SEED.
NJ SEED’s labor and business leaders look forward to working with the administration of Governor Christie and the legislature to further the goals of a vibrant economy and a healthy environment.