An ambassador’s vision of disjoined New Jersey

Yesterday I renewed my membership in New Jersey Society of CPAs. I considered not renewing. The culture, issues, and physical separation of my rural South Jersey career are so far removed from the upstate urban community that it might as well be in a different country. That’s not their fault, of course.

I don’t expect much empathy. We’ve heard many times that there are not enough people or votes here to justify much attention. In an era of booming post-pandemic economy, many of our businesses remain boarded up. While recovery aid flowed to other areas, this area remains starved. We saw this after Sandy, after Covid, and it is reasonable to expect that we will see it again in the future. Despite this modern era where technology offers the opportunity to span distances and bring us together, I see evidence of a widening gap in wealth, income, education, health and beliefs. We are still struggling to access reliable internet and funding for sustainability projects. An article last week titled “Crisis in Cumberland” (https://lnkd.in/grHXWRz6) summarized the issues.

There are only a few CPAs here who choose to join the statewide association. That choice appears to not be unique to CPAs. My Money Island Marina is one of the only in our region to join it’s statewide industry association (mtanj.org). When I served as president of the remodeler’s association in southeastern Pennsylvania (https://lnkd.in/gNkbPRAH), there was no equivalent industry association in South Jersey. Still, today, there is no industry association to represent my contractor clients in South Jersey on a statewide basis. I take note when my business decision to get involved in statewide association is outside the norm.

I remember meeting a woman a few years ago who had just finished reading “The Drowning of Money Island” (https://lnkd.in/gxivmU24) with her book club. It is a biographical work of our long struggle here. She asked me “We all wondered: what made you think you could change them?” I’ve thought about that question often. The answer, I am sure, is that I didn’t expect to change them. Rather, my conclusion is that the only viable path forward for me is toward greater unity rather than continued isolation. I may not make a difference, but I still will choose to take the path toward that goal.

My hope for the next year as a member of the state CPA association is that I can bring some attention from upstate to our local progress on transition to a green energy, eco-tourism focused economy in the rural southern part of the state. I know that our long-term future is bright; I just need to try to help speed it along.

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