You have probably noticed that the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth has been back in the news with CommVault’s move out of Oceanport and into Tinton Falls. There have been a lot of glowing press releases issued by the Fort Monmouth Economic Redevelopment Authority (FMERA) and local and state officials. Each one of these press releases trumpeted the positive short and long term impact that this move will have on the Fort’s redevelopment and to the community at large. Indeed, the press releases spoke of the virtues of this move and the many thousands of jobs that would be created by CommVault as the result of its relocation from Oceanport to Tinton Falls. Depending on whose press release you want to believe, CommVault will be creating between 1500 to 3000 jobs over the course of its expansion in Tinton Falls. Unfortunately, these numbers aren’t guaranteed. They are only projections, and self-serving ones at that. It would be nice if the taxpayers were provided actual facts when the government is spending taxpayer dollars. The lack of facts in these press releases seem to reflect that the government doesn’t think that the taxpayers are able to understand the facts or, quite possibly, that the facts aren’t consistent with the story that is being told.
I would like to take a few minutes to apply some FACTS to this transaction:
FACT #1: CommVault is currently located in Oceanport, only 2 miles away from the proposed new site in Tinton Falls. As such, FMERA didn’t attract business from outside the area to come to Monmouth County. Instead, it poached a local business from one Fort Monmouth community (Oceanport) and put it in another Fort Monmouth community (Tinton Falls.)
FACT #2: This is EXACTLY what Oceanport’s governing body feared when we fought against the New Jersey Economic Development Authority having control over the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth – control that was wrested away from us by virtue of unprecedented legislation.
FACT #3: CommVault is receiving $7.2 million under the Business Employment Incentive Program to create 225 jobs, according to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. That is $32,000 per job to be created. In the event that CommVault does not create 225 jobs, however, it must pay a penalty of $3,000 per job. So, by my calculations, even if CommVault fails to create ANY jobs, it will pay a penalty of only $675,000 out of the original $7.2 million provided to it. (Nice odds if you can get them)
FACT #4: CommVault received a $1.35 million Business Retention and Relocation Assistance Grant to keep 300 employees here in New Jersey, according to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s own numbers. When combined with the $7.2 million grant, that means the taxpayers of New Jersey have subsidized this move to the tune of $8.55 million.
FACT #5: The required 255 created jobs and the retention of 300 jobs totals 525 jobs. That is a far cry from the 3000 job creation numbers that are being thrown around.
FACT #6: Oceanport has lost its 2nd largest employer and neither the New Jersey Economic Redevelopment Authority nor FMERA has proposed anything at the Fort to offset that loss.
FACT #7: This does NOTHING to help the area as jobs are simply moving 2 miles down the road. Again, this isn’t job creation as the press releases would have us believe. At best, it is job retention; job retention at a substantial cost to us, the taxpayers.
FACT #8: It will be up to us, the taxpayers and local politicians, a few years from now, to figure out whether or not the taxpayer’s money has been spent wisely because nobody else will do it for us, ESPECIALLY if the numbers don’t turn out to be consistent with their pie-in-the-sky projections.
FACT #9: It will be up to us, the taxpayers and local politicians; a few years from now to hold FMERA and state officials accountable for this use of taxpayer dollars should the anticipated 3,000 jobs not materialize.