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Honeywell exec says firm will stay in New Jersey

By Beth DeFalco
Associated Press Writer / July 29, 2010

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MORRISTOWN, N.J.—Honeywell International Chairman and CEO Dave Cote said Thursday that the Fortune 500 company has decided to keep its headquarters in New Jersey despite an attractive offer in another state.

Cote said the $33 billion company had been seriously considering moving out of New Jersey and taking its 1,800 jobs with it. He said the company was persuaded to stay after getting assurances from Gov. Chris Christie that his administration will work with the Legislature to expand a tax credit program aimed at retaining companies.

Cote did not name the state that made the offer.

The Republican governor said he will propose expanding the state's Business Retention and Relocation Assistance Grant program.

The program allows New Jersey businesses with provable offers to leave the state the opportunity to qualify for a grant of up to $1,500 per job retained. It's payable as a one-year credit against a company's corporate tax liability.

The governor said the expanded program would pay $2,225 per job against a company's tax bill for as long as six years, assuming the Democratic-controlled Legislature approves it.

"There's not going to be a real choice in the matter here for us and for the Legislature," Christie said. "We have to modernize our programs."

Cote said he asked to meet with Christie. When they did, Christie asked Cote to wait a week before making a decision so the administration could consider some options.

"I remember saying, 'OK. He asked for a week. That's political code for nothing will happen,'" Cote said. To his surprise, what he got a week later is what he calls a "thoughtful, quick response."

About 1,200 people work at the technology and manufacturing giant's headquarters in Morristown, where Christie and Cote announced on Thursday the company's plans to stay and redevelop their global headquarters.

Cote said he was sure Honeywell, which has been in New Jersey for 50 years, was not alone in considering a move.

"If there are people thinking of leaving, call the lieutenant governor," Christie said, adding that losing a company like Honeywell would be "another black eye for businesses in New Jersey."

On Friday, Honeywell reported second-quarter earnings of $468 million, or 60 cents per share, for April-June period, up from $450 million, or 60 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. Revenue increased 8 percent to $8.2 billion from $7.6 billion.