Lou in the News

N.J. lawmakers move to allow direct Tesla sales in Garden State

May 1, 2014
Phil Gregory
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Two New Jersey lawmakers are introducing legislation that would allow electric car manufacturer Tesla to keep doing business in the state.

The measure sponsored by Assemblymen Lou Greenwald and Tim Eustace would reverse a Motor Vehicle Commission decision in March that requires all new car sales to go through a dealer.

If other states enacted that direct sales ban, it would have been the death of the company, said Jim Chen, Tesla vice president.

"Our whole mission is to catalyze the market for electric vehicles, and the only way to do that is to introduce this new technology," Chen said. "It's the first time this technology has been able to make this much of an inroad into the monopoly that is in our light-duty transportation sector, that is internal-combustion engines."

The legislation would allow Tesla to have up to four stores in New Jersey as well as requiring it to maintain a service facility in the state, said Greenwald, D-Camden.

"The legislation represents a common-sense compromise to promote and strengthen our auto industry, promote innovation, encourage environmental protection, and accommodate consumer concerns," he said.

Tesla's electric cars can travel up to 280 miles on a single charge.

Democrats propose bill that would allow Tesla to operate in N.J.

May 1, 2014
Andrew George
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Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Voorhees) and Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Paramus) unveiled a “compromise” legislation Thursday that would keep Tesla Motors operating in New Jersey.

The state Motor Vehicle Commission decided in March to require that all new cars be sold through a franchised dealer rather directly through a manufacturer, effectively banning Tesla and its business model from the state as of April 1.

The move was criticized by many as a bow to special interest groups and the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, which claimed Tesla’s business model presented an unfair advantage.

Though a short two-week reprieve was given, Tesla’s two New Jersey stores have since seen their operating licenses suspended.

Under the proposed bill, the company would be permitted to sell directly to customers at a total of four licensed locations across the state. One retail facility for vehicle service would also be required.

Greenwald said Thursday that the MVC’s ruling was an “erroneous decision” and that allowing Tesla to operate was about “consumer’s choice.”

“Tesla, in my opinion, is doing everything right,” Greenwald said. “Tesla is a company that we want to see grow.”

Greenwald slams Sandy grant program at meeting with business owners in Highlands

Star Ledger
April 7, 2014
Stacy Jones
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Tax payer money used to pay ineffective case workers managing the Stronger NJ Grant Program was money wasted, state Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald said during a meeting with business owners in Highlands yesterday morning.

The Camden Democrat leveled harsh criticism at the Hurricane Sandy aid program while meeting with business owners who said the program seems to have been designed to keep the aid from them. The meeting was arranged by New Jersey Main Street Alliance, an advocacy group that represents small business owners in the state, which has been calling for changes to the grant program for months.

The Stronger NJ program was created last year to distribute grants to small business owners rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. It began with $260 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but it was scaled back to $100 million when the Christie administration reallocated $160 million for a housing recovery program.

Of what remains in the grant program, $16.9 million has been approved and $13.3 million has already been put into the hands of business owners, according to Virginia Pellerin, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which oversees the program.

New Jersey Lawmaker Vows To 'Clean Up' Chris Christie's Tesla 'Mess'

Business Insider
March 19, 2014
Hunter Walker
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New Jersey Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald issued a statement Wednesday night responding to comments Gov. Chris Christie made at a town hall meeting Monday about the state's ban that would stop Tesla Motors from selling its cars directly to customers.
Greenwald rejected Christie's claim the matter should be settled between Tesla and the Legislature and promised to "work with my colleagues in the Legislature to clean up the governor’s mess."

"When it comes to Tesla, Governor Christie needs to get his facts straight. Rather than take responsibility for his own administration's decision to shut down Tesla, he chose to point fingers and evade accountability. These town hall antics reek of hypocrisy," Greenwald said. "The governor's comments are a classic example of passing the buck in the face of an unpopular decision instead of accepting responsibility."

Small business owners: Stronger NJ grant process not working

April 7, 2014
Andrew George
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In its storefront window visible from Bay Avenue in Highlands, Francesco’s Italian Restaurant proudly displays that it is currently celebrating 30 years in business.

But for owner Giorgio Migliaccio, this was supposed to be the backup plan.

Migliaccio said he sold the business sometime before Hurricane Sandy hit with the plan of retiring and drawing income from the property as a landlord. But when the storm came and went, so too did his tenants.

Seeking help, he first went to FEMA, who then directed him to go to the U.S. Small Business Administration, and eventually ended up looking for a Stronger NJ Business Grant through the state Economic Development Authority.

Mounds of paperwork later, Migliaccio said there was nothing left to do but take money out of his retirement plan, pour it back into the business and open up shop.

“This is my retirement plan,” Migliaccio says now. “I can’t give it up.”

On Monday morning, several other small business owners from Long Beach Island to Hoboken joined Migliaccio at his restaurant in order to voice their frustrations with the Stronger NJ Business Grant Program to Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Voorhees).