As President and CEO of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, Siekerka has her finger on the pulse on what exactly business owners need in order to succeed in New Jersey. She and Tom Bracken, head of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, are two of the key voices for the needs of businesses across the state.
NJBIA has its roots in manufacturing, having been founded in 1910 as the Manufacturers Association of the State of New Jersey by several mill owners, rebranding as the New Jersey Manufacturers Association in the 1930s and later the NJBIA.
As the NJBIA notes, the state’s multibillion dollar manufacturing sector is “no longer just the smokestack industries we remember from years ago,” but rather it can entail “work of highly-skilled employees on computer automated machines that require attention to detail and the ability to solve complex problems.”
Broadly speaking, the challenges for the state’s businesses are enormous. Even going into the pandemic, figures like Siekerka have worried that high taxes and regulations, and political tensions over a now-expired economic incentive program have made businesses second-guess if they want to stay in New Jersey, or if they might want to leave the state.
Now as the pandemic forces many of them to operate at greatly reduced capacity and intensive sanitization rules in place, and as it decimates the business supply chain and craters consumer demand, many are left gasping for air. Once the pandemic subsides, the state and nation will face a years-long, sluggish economic recovery. Businesses large and small will turn to figures like Siekerka on how to navigate this new landscape.