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New Jersey governor Phil Murphy and writer Harlan Coben spoke in Variety’s Streaming Room with Executive Vice President, Content Executive Editor Steven Gaydos about the growth in the state’s film production over the last several years. Tracing New Jersey’s tax incentive programs back to 2018 when they were first implemented, Murphy explained how production capabilities are expanding across the state, starting from the premise for studios and productions that “the math has to work.”

“We’re the fourth smallest state geographically, and yet within that very tight confine we can give you looks that are as disparate as any American state, mountain seashore, urban, horse farms, you name it,” said Murphy.

Coben, who was born in Newark and spent his entire life in New Jersey, said he was encouraged to film his new series “Shelter,” based on the first chapter in his “Mickey Bolitar” book series, for more reasons than that he was able to shoot scenes at his high school alma mater. “This series is a little bit of my love letter to this great and diverse state.”

“There’s a line that one of my characters says, we’re looking at this gorgeous view of Manhattan saying, ‘Yeah, the best view of Manhattan, you got to see it from New Jersey’,” Coben said. “Having that ability, the suburbs, the mix of the city, the suburbs, this is such a dynamic state.”

Murphy explored New Jersey’s proximity to New York City and the state governments’ efforts to retain cast and crew that may be venturing to the cultural mecca for work, and then to further prepare subsequent generations of New Jersey natives for the challenges of increased film and television production in the state. “Because New York City has been a big production center for a long time, we have a lot of crew already living in Jersey — but we also want to make sure we are training the next generation,” Murphy said. “So we’ve actually, in our incentive plans, put aside monies to invest in workforce development for this industry specifically.”

They also spoke philosophically about some of the external factors that may impact a company’s decision to mount a production in New Jersey, even if comparable facilities exist in another state. “If either talent or workers anywhere above the line, below the line, in front of the camera or behind it, if they care about reproductive freedom, if they care about the environment, voting rights, treatment of the LGBTQIA plus community, gun safety, to pick sort of the big five, New Jersey is on the right side of history,” Murphy said. “And that is not an inconsequential factor in a lot of the discussions that we have, particularly with talent and at the highest levels of the studios.”

Coben, who Murphy described as a “two decade plus friend,” further reinforced the state’s welcoming nature — logistically, financially, and dispositionally — as the conversation between them and Gaydos came to a close. “It was a dream to film here, but frankly, economically, they would’ve probably wanted to go someplace else originally,” Coben admitted. “But how welcome they made us feel and how quickly they turned it around for being a place I wouldn’t even raise as a possibility.”

“It wouldn’t have happened without the incentives that they’ve put in place, obviously the financial stuff,” said Coben. “But also the warm welcoming stuff — I consider them tremendous assets.”

Watch the full conversation above.