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Abstract

New Jersey is very much like many other states in the northeastern region of the United States. On the other hand, it is unique in a number of ways. New Jersey is characterized by (1) a large and affluent consumer base, (2) access to major ports and air transportation facilities which facilitates foreign imports and exports, and (3) large food manufacturing, retail and service sectors. New Jersey's food wholesale sector is therefore an important economic sector with strong potential for future growth. Food wholesalers can provide stable high-paying jobs in an economy still recovering from the 1989-92 recession. Limited knowledge of the challenges facing this sector may hinder its potential growth and development. Given the implications that could be drawn from New Jersey, this paper investigates the challenges facing New Jersey food wholesalers based on information obtained directly from industry leaders via a focus group meeting. Findings suggest the need for public policies to address transportation, regulation, education and training, public relations, nonunion labor and quality of life issues. These findings are useful in planning for economic development of the food wholesale sector and fostering competitiveness not only in New Jersey, but in the Northeast and other regions.

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