After a heavy day of campaigning for businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday, Gov. Chris Christie was back in New Jersey Tuesday to visit HelloFresh, a five-year old German delivery meal service company with operations in Linden.
The company is planning a major move to Newark, which will increase its current workforce of 122 employees by more than 400 new workers. In October, HelloFresh was approved for a 10-year, $25.1 million Grow New Jersey award to keep the company in the state.
Christie visited with workers in Linden on Monday before taking questions from reporters. He called HelloFresh a “great story of growth in New Jersey” and noted that the state’s unemployment rate had just dipped even further to 4.5 percent.
That figure, Christie pointed out, is below the national rate of 4.9 percent and well under the 9.8 percent mark when he first took office in 2010.
“We’ve done a lot of great things from an economic perspective and I, quite frankly, grow weary of folks on the other side of the aisle continuing to poor mouth what is happening here,” Christie said. “The numbers are now the numbers. When you are four-tenths of a point below the national average, when you are better than any state in the region, when you have recovered all of the jobs that were lost during the great recession, even some of our most strident political opponents are going to have to finally admit that our policies have worked.”
HelloFresh, Christie said, is “just another example of how those policies, both using economic incentives and keeping taxes down in this state, not allowing them to increase at all different levels is the thing that needs to be done to make New Jersey competitive and to give our citizens a chance to have a good job where they come to work every day, feel good about what they do, and be paid a competitive wage.”
Incentives, Christie added, is just a part of the economic recovery effort needed to make New Jersey more competitive with its neighbors.
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“These guys at HelloFresh create the jobs,” Christie said. “What we do for them is to create an atmosphere under which it is profitable for them to expand. And they told me flat out in the meeting we just had that if we did not have the incentive program we had, they would have left to another state. They mentioned Pennsylvania for one, New York for another. So, we are competing every day regionally and us saying no to higher taxes, which I will continue to say no to for every day that I am governor, for us continuing to streamline our incentive programs to make them more user-friendly and more economically advantageous for entrepreneurs like the folks here.”
Christie also fielded a number of questions about Trump, who increased his delegate lead Tuesday with big primary wins in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina.
The governor defended his decision to campaign with the former Atlantic City casino owner on Monday instead of attending a funeral for New Jersey State Trooper Sean Cullen, who was killed last week when he was struck by a passing vehicle.
Christie said that even if he had been in the state, the plan was for Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno to attend the funeral.
“This is our normal protocol,” Christie said.
The move was met with wide criticism, from police unions to the front page of Tuesday’s New York Daily News.