Technology & Innovation
New Jersey has long been the birthplace of innovation, from the days when Thomas Edison took an invention from his workshop and lit up the world. The breakthroughs that happen here, from the light bulb to disease-eradicating medicines, have not only changed lives, but they have fueled economic prosperity.
Today, our state, often called “the Medicine Cabinet of the World”, continues to help lead the way with innovations that can improve our quality of life while creating economic security in the 21st Century. New Jersey is second in solar power. Research that takes place here is helping make our families healthier. And we are home to some of the nation's top research universities, where many of the best ideas are born.
As a Member of the U.S. House, Menendez worked to create the Liberty Corridor to help New Jersey companies bring an idea from concept to market all entirely within the state. It started with an $88 million dollar federal investment to help move freight more efficiently, create jobs by revitalizing brownfields around the port region into warehouses and distribution centers; and promote research, innovation, and high-tech manufacturing. The project brings together New Jersey’s existing research facilities and infrastructure – seaports, airports, railways, highways, colleges, universities, and innovation companies to create an all-new synergy that creates jobs and expands our economy.
The economic benefits of innovation extend far beyond the entrepreneur who has the initial idea. The job creation that is associated with a new business is also tremendously important for thousands of workers and their families.
- Solar Power and LED Lighting. Helped lead the fight to extend solar tax credits until 2016, a cornerstone of a continued vibrant solar industry in New Jersey, which has the second largest solar market in the country. He also helped champion the 1603 Treasury Grant Program to help finance renewable energy projects. The program led to 982 grants in New Jersey worth nearly $491.5 million, helping to leverage over $1 billion in private investment in the state’s economy.
- Manufacturing Advanced, Clean Energy Technology. Sponsored legislation in 2009 to provide tax credits for solar energy manufacturing so that solar panels can be made affordably in the U.S., and helped include tax credits for clean energy manufacturing --particularly LED lighting -- in the economic recovery package enacted into law in 2009.
- Biotech Research Tax Credits. Created a new $1 billion dollar investment in tax credits for research done at nearly 3,000 small, innovative biotech companies. This provision alone resulted in the investment of $52 million in over 230 innovative projects in New Jersey that has kept life-saving research going during the economic downturn, maintained high-skilled jobs in New Jersey, and one day may help find a cure for cancer in our lifetime – or a new treatment for the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s. New Jersey was one of the top 3 recipients of any state in the country.
- Consumer Access to Solar Power. Authored the Solar Opportunity and Local Access Rights (SOLAR) Act, which would make it easier for consumers to install solar cells on their property by ensuring that utility companies allow alternative energy generators to connect to the power grid, and guarantee that excess power generated by these sources can be sold back to the utility at a fair rate. The bill would also help protect prospective consumers from exorbitant permitting and licensing fees.
- Science and Technology Education. Authored provisions enacted into law as part of the 2007 America COMPETES Act to increase the number of women and minorities in the science and technology fields and aid in revitalizing high school science labs in rural communities. Provision originally included in Menendez's Partnership for Access to Laboratory Science (PALS) Act.
- Cybersecurity. Sponsored the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act that would help harden federal computer networks, spur research and development, build our American cyber workforce and enable the government and the private sector to collaborate more easily on security. Our nation’s critical infrastructure is under daily attack and we must ensure our utilities, power grids, financial institutions, air traffic control and other vital systems remain secure.
- Green Technology Patents. Authored a provision that will allow the Patent Office to fast-track patents that will help the U.S. economy or national competitiveness, including cutting-edge green technologies. This legislation was enacted into law as part of the America Invents Act, a bill reforming our patent review system.
- Research Funding. Fought to increase funding for science research, specifically advocating for increases at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy's Office of Science, the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). U.S-based scientific research and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education funding is especially important to New Jersey, which is home to a number of top-notch academic and research institutions and cutting-edge businesses.
- Supporting Offshore Wind. Co-sponsored legislation to provide long term incentives needed to jumpstart the offshore wind industry. Because of New Jersey’s high electricity demand, long shore line, and shallow continental shelf it is perhaps the best state for offshore wind in the country.
- Energy Efficiency. Created the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) program as part of the 2007 energy bill. This program provided $3.2 billion to build new green energy projects, create jobs, and lower municipal energy bills. Senator Menendez understands that transforming our energy industry needs to start with local leaders. His EECBG program is providing New Jersey communities over $70 million in grants to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
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