Brand New Jersey

I live in New Jersey, and have for 23 years.

So, when someone asks, “Where are you from?”, why is it that I generally answer, “I live in New Jersey”? Why, after 23 years, am I unable to say that I am “from” New Jersey?

Sad to say, I’ve never been sold on the brand that is New Jersey.

Not that the state doesn’t have a lot to offer. It does. We like our town and our surroundings, and there are many good destinations within a short drive of north Jersey. There’s a lot of professional opportunity here. Lots of good people. So….why?

The reason is well illustrated by the lack of integrity demonstrated by our government officials. And this is not a “political statement.” Totally apart from any party politics, it’s just a sad statement of fact.

Our newest governor, whose entree into office was significantly aided by loads of cash, just got himself seriously injured by flouting the laws he is supposed to uphold – speeding in a government vehicle, and traveling without a seat belt fastened. The prior governor stepped down in a well-documented scandal. Our latest senatorial election had all sorts of ethical questions surrounding it. And on it goes. There is so much scandal in New Jersey politics that it all seems like “business as usual.”

It’s one thing to pay taxes – some of the highest in the nation. It’s another when the return on investment is embarrassment.

Our “leaders” don’t seem to account for the fact that this level of seediness erodes all civic pride among citizens. And so, you see, I’m not from New Jersey.

Perhaps I’d like to be. Perhaps I’d like to proudly say that I’m a resident of this state. In fact, I would enjoy the privilege of pointing out elected officials to my sons, and saying, “Emulate that person.” Instead of causing us to always look to the future, wondering what other shores might be better for our later years, perhaps some political leaders in NJ could stand up, strive for a new business as usual, and make this state a place of pride.

So, sell me. I don’t need another cheap NJ tourist slogan. I’ve been watching for 23 years, and you who lead this state have blown the New Jersey brand so far. Because a brand is more than a slogan – it’s all about value. Is there anyone around who can make me want to be from New Jersey??

About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

2 Responses to Brand New Jersey

  1. Doug Karr says:

    I worked in Philly for a while and the joke whenever I met someone from NJ was, “What exit are you from?”


  2. Jim says:

    I completely share your dissappointment with our elected officials, but I am always very proud to say I am “from NJ”. There’s more to our state than just a corrupt government. We are a microcosm of the rest of the country.

    Forests – Not the most expansive or even the most breath-taking, but large enough to find yourself lost and in danger of perishing. Beautiful enough to make you forget that you’re always only minutes away from a city.

    Mountains – OK…not the Rockys, but they’re tall enough to challenge even a skilled hiker and 2,100′ is the same as 10,000 if you are falling. And they are always only minutes away from the forest (or a city).

    Farms – Maybe not seas of waving grain, but quaint little places that you can enjoy along the way while driving, cycling or hiking from the forest to the mountains (or back to the city)

    Lakes – We’re not the land o lakes, but if you like to fish, cayak, sail, ski or whatever, there’s plenty of opportunity and you can do it on short notice because…hey…they’re just minutes away.

    Beaches – Perhaps not California or Florida, but Jersey is one of the states fortunate enough to have ocean beaches (that are just minutes away).

    Then there is the city, where I prefer not to spend too much time, but whenever I have need or desire, I’m only minutes away from The City.

    Of course, if you are from NJ and you feel the need to be out of NJ, hop in your car and take a relatively short drive in any direction and you can be someplace else. That’s a luxury the western states can’t afford.

    Surprisingly (but happily) even with the dissapointments in government, if you chose to educate your children at home, there’s practically no better state to be from (at least for the present).

    But maybe the biggest reason I don’t shy away from saying I’m from NJ is because..well…I’m from NJ. Born here. Raised here. Never lived anywhere else and really never wanted to. All of my immediate and most of my extended family is here, and they too were born and raised here (I’m Italian).

    Someday perhaps providence will take me to a different place, but until then… I’m from NJ : )

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