Quantex Laboratories had long been looking for a new home.
But when Hurricane Sandy hit, Menoutis shifted from relocation to recovery instantly.
The storm zapped the company’s power supply, shutting off thousands of dollars worth of sensitive lab equipment for more than a week and closing off even basic communication, like e-mail, for a day and a half.
When he was able to access his e-mail, though, “the first thing I get is an e-mail from Bill Geigerich, from the Business Action Center, saying, ‘What can we do for you? How are you doing? How did you fare?” Menoutis said.
Geigerich is one of eight business advocates within the New Jersey Business Action Center’s Office of Business Advocacy. The center is one prong of the state’s Partnership for Action, a business-focused coalition that also includes the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and Choose New Jersey.
In normal times, the business advocacy unit helps companies apply for incentives, navigate the regulatory process or select new sites. But when Sandy hit, the unit went into first-responder mode, calling the 350 clients it has worked with to ensure they were OK, and make sure those thinking about relocating within the state or coming here were undeterred.
“Our motivation was to make sure if a business was displaced or disrupted, we could get them served as fast as possible, to ensure they didn’t leave New Jersey,” said Lauren Moore, the center’s deputy executive director.
Moore said the danger of losing jobs after the storm was acute.
“When you have a couple of feet of water in your business and a company has operations in other states, and those other operations have the capacity to absorb the production capacity that’s in New Jersey, that’s a concern for us,” he said.
Geigerich gave Menoutis his cell number and the two spoke later that day.
“It was probably one of the worst cases I handled,” Geigerich said. “They had no power and they had time-sensitive contracts with these pharma companies.”