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Republican Kim Guadagno and Democrat Phil Murphy have a similar vision for New Jersey: one where businesses will want to move here, expand here and grow here. But they have very different ideas on how to get there.

One week after winning their party’s primary elections, Guadagno, and Murphy kicked off their campaigns to be New Jersey’s next Governor before an audience of more than 200 business leaders at NJBIA’s Employer Legislative Committees Gubernatorial Reception last night.

For Murphy, improving the economy requires creating an economic environment where business, education and infrastructure interconnect. For Guadagno, it’s about low taxes, affordability and solving problems so businesses will want to be here.

“If we don’t get the economy right, we don’t get New Jersey right,” Murphy said. As Governor, he said he would invest in people, take advantage of the state’s strengths, and position New Jersey for long-term success.

Guadagno said, “The only way to make sure businesses come here, grow here, stay here is to cut taxes.”

She pointed to her record as a problem-solver who helps businesses deal with the state government and convinces them to expand in New Jersey instead of other states where costs and regulations are less onerous.

Guadagno, the current Lt. Governor, pointed to the case of Subaru; the company had one little problem that they couldn’t get fixed and were going to leave the state because of it, Guadagno said. But instead, she was able to fix it and a year later, Subaru opened its Certified Distribution Center is in Burlington County. Not only that, but because of tax incentives offered by the state, the company is building its new world headquarters in the economically distressed city of Camden.

For Murphy, the former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, the state’s competition is not the south, but “states that look like us.” He pointed to Massachusetts, a northeastern state with a dense population and highly educated people. “And right now, Massachusetts is cleaning our clock in the innovation economy,” Murphy said.

Massachusetts works because it has been a leader in innovation, an advantage that New Jersey once held over other states. “But we have let a lot of our edge go,” Murphy said. “It wasn’t because our people or our prospects went bad. We simply lost leadership and vision.”

Guadagno and Murphy continued the tradition of making ELC Reception the first major general campaign event following the primary election, giving the newly chosen Democratic and Republican gubernatorial nominees the chance to address the state’s business leaders.

NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka thanked Guadagno and Murphy for recognizing the importance of the business community’s concerns through their participation in this event.

“Tonight, we heard from two individuals who each have their own vision and direction for a New Jersey they want to lead as our next Governor,” Siekerka said. “This was their opportunity to speak directly to the businesses and entrepreneurs that create jobs and make New Jersey’s economy run, and they both made the most of their opportunity tonight.”

The Employer Legislative Committees have been NJBIA’s grassroots affiliates since 1959. Each ELC is independently run, bringing together local businesses with legislators and government officials for informal monthly meetings.

“These are the business people who stay active in the political process day in and day out, so it makes sense for them to be part of the kickoff of the general election campaign,” said ELC Executive Director Frank Robinson.