Brand New Jersey
April 17, 2007 2 Comments
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??