Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ-06) stopped by Cowerks coworking space, in Asbury Park, to take the temperature of the startup community there.
Pallone made the trip to Cowerks yesterday as part of Start-Up Day Across America, a bipartisan effort to raise awareness about the important role startups play in the economy, and to provide local entrepreneurs with an opportunity to educate their congressional representatives about the challenges they are facing.
Representatives Jared Polis (CO-02) and Darrell Issa (CA-49) launched Start-Up Day Across America in the summer of 2013. Start-Up Day is now organized annually by members of the Congressional Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a bipartisan group whose mission is to promote policies that help new and small businesses grow and create jobs.
Pallone stayed after his prepared remarks to seriously engage with the tech entrepreneurs who attended the event, and learned about their ventures.
He told NJTechWeekly.com that the main problems he heard from the group centered around the a wish for better transportation from the area (primarily to New York), as well as other infrastructure issues.
Pallone added that he would like to see more coworking spaces like Cowerks in his district, and would like to see a way to transition those smaller companies to larger quarters within New Jersey once they grow.
Pallone’s district covers most of Middlesex County and a good portion of Monmouth County, including the Bayshore and twelve communities on the Atlantic coast.
“I understand there are companies that want to stay here, that don’t want to go to New York, and we want to help them as much as we can,” he said.
Pallone was impressed by the sense of community and the enthusiasm he found at Cowerks, and said he believes that ideas could be cross-pollinated at venues like this.
Cowerks cofounder Bret Morgan said he spoke to Pallone about direct access via NJ Transit to New York and about the possibility of a five-year tax incentive for startups, similar to the one in New York State. He urged the congressman to spread the word about Asbury Park, to let people know what is happening with the tech community there.
Entrepreneur and web devloper Adam Weinberg said that he introduced Pallone to the website LetsFreeCongress.org, which Weinberg thought was a good idea for Congress, as well as an example of the kind of mobile design work that any of the developers at Cowerks could do to help the Congressman gain online support for his initiatives with the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
LetsFreeCongress.org proposes preventing money from influencing legislation. This would be done though the American Anti-Corruption Act, which proposes giving $100 to each voter every election cycle to invest in the politicians they believe in. Weinberg said that Pallone had told him that he thought it would be better for the government to match what the people donated.