New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine last week signed into law an initiative to help boost job growth and increase infrastructure investment throughout the state.

The new $120 million Invest N.J. program will pay $3,000 to qualified businesses for each new job created and retained for one year. In addition, companies that invest at least $5,000 in capital improvements will receive a grant from the state equal to 7% of a company’s capital spending. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority will administer the new program.

“We can either wait for the economic cycle to take its course, or we can act now to mitigate the effects of the recession, curtail its duration, and better position New Jersey to take advantage of the recovery,” Corzine said Tuesday during his speech at the annual New Jersey Business and Industry Public Policy Forum.

To participate in the program, companies must have operated in the state for the prior two years or longer and employ a minimum of five full-time workers. The initiative will end Jan. 1, 2011.

Businesses can gain up to $500,000 through the new-employee grant initiative, which is a $50 million program. The state will offer a total of $70 million for companies that invest in capital projects, with businesses able to receive up to $1 million.

Unemployment in the Garden State rose to 6% in October, a 0.02% increase over the prior month, due in part to roughly 6,000 lost jobs, according the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. New Jersey is just slightly below national figures. The U.S. unemployment rate increased to 6.5% in October.

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