The board of directors of Choose New Jersey, Inc., a privately funded and operated organization that works to grow investment and jobs in the Garden State, today announced that Michele Brown will serve as the nonprofit’s new president and chief executive officer. The organization, which is supported by many of the state’s most respected companies, labor groups and higher education institutions, also ratified its slate of executive directors and confirmed its board of directors.
Brown comes to Choose New Jersey after serving for more than two years as chief executive officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA), an independent state agency responsible for providing financing to small and mid-sized businesses, administering tax incentives to retain and grow jobs and revitalizing communities through redevelopment initiatives. Prior to that, she was a federal prosecutor and served as acting first assistant US attorney, district of New Jersey. She occupied the top spot on NJBIZ’s 2014 “Power 100” list, with the newspaper calling her “the most powerful woman in the state,” and was tied last year for the top spot on their “Power 50 Real Estate” list. She replaces Tracye McDaniel, who is leaving Choose New Jersey to return to her home state of Texas to lead its economic development efforts.
“We wanted a proven leader who would continue Choose New Jersey’s good work, and someone ready to collaborate with all entities that comprise the Partnership for Action. We are very pleased that Michele Brown was willing to move from her position as CEO of the EDA, to assume the top spot at Choose New Jersey. She has strong management skills and a deep understanding of the industries and people that power New Jersey. She will hit the ground running as our new leader and provide for a cohesive, seamless transition so that we can maintain our forward momentum. She is the right person, at the right time, and we are thrilled to have her on board,” said Bernie Flynn, president and chief executive officer of New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company and the outgoing chairman of the board of Choose New Jersey.
Under Brown’s leadership, the EDA ushered in a new era of economic development in the state with the streamlining of New Jersey’s incentive programs through the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013. Projects approved under the enhanced Grow NJ and Economic Redevelopment and Growth incentive programs account for the expected creation and retention of 38,800 jobs.
During her tenure, the EDA closed on financing totaling more than $3 billion to support nearly 550 projects across the state. These projects are expected to leverage $7.5 billion in private investment and create and retain more than 80,000 jobs. She also guided the EDA in its administration of programs aimed at helping impacted businesses and communities recover from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.
EDA chairman Al Koeppe testified to Michele’s accomplishments and style, saying, “Michele has provided thoughtful and steady leadership at the EDA during a period of significant and complex legislative changes in the financial programs that the authority administers. She asks the hard questions, is willing to challenge the experts in their fields, looks for collaborative solutions and stands her ground on issues of importance to our state. Choose New Jersey is very fortunate to have her as CEO, and I will miss her presence at EDA.”
Choose New Jersey is a nationally recognized “next generation” model for economic development. It markets New Jersey as a premiere business location to both domestic and international businesses, helping the state understand emerging opportunities among companies looking to expand and enter the U.S. market, and helping to parlay them into active leads.
Since its inception in 2010, Choose New Jersey has supported the recruitment, expansion and/or retention of 60 corporate operations that accounted for more than 12,600 jobs and nearly $1.4 billion in capital investment – including investments by Allergan, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, First Data Corp., Orexo, Sandoz, Shiamak, and Valeant/Bausch + Lomb.
“I’m incredibly proud of what we were able to accomplish in the past four years,” said outgoing president McDaniel. “There is a growing recognition around the world that New Jersey has a superb business climate and a strong pipeline of leads that Michele and the state’s economic development team will no doubt handle with expert care.”
Choose New Jersey is part of the New Jersey Partnership for Action (PFA), which includes the New Jersey Business Action Center, the EDA, and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education. Under the leadership of Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, the PFA serves as the starting point for all initiatives, policies and efforts related to growing New Jersey’s economy and creating quality, sustainable jobs.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Michele at EDA where she has led the process of implementing the Economic Opportunity Act,” said Larry Downes, chairman and CEO of New Jersey Resources. “As a result of her efforts, the state’s business attraction and retention opportunities have been greatly enhanced. There’s no question that Choose New Jersey will benefit significantly from her leadership.” Downes sits on the board of directors for both the EDA and Choose New Jersey.
Also today, Ralph LaRossa, president and chief operating officer of PSE&G, became chairman of the board of Choose New Jersey, beginning a two-year term that follows two years as vice chairman. PSE&G has long been committed to helping grow the state’s economy, and last year spent more than $1 billion with New Jersey companies. LaRossa succeeds Bernie Flynn, who has served as chairman of Choose New Jersey since 2012.
“Michele has earned the respect of the New Jersey development community, and she has the support of the business and labor leaders that govern Choose New Jersey,” LaRossa said. “I am grateful to Bernie and Tracye for their years of leadership and their commitment to growing New Jersey, and I look forward to working with Michele to move the organization and the state forward in the race for investment and jobs.”
Nineteen of the state’s top business leaders have committed to three-year terms on Choose New Jersey’s board of directors, helping to advance the economic development agenda of the state. These business leaders represent a broad range of New Jersey’s most respected Fortune 500 companies, privately held enterprises, labor organizations, associations and non-profits, and have pledged $12 million over five years to promote economic development in the Garden State.
The full list of members elected to the Choose New Jersey board of directors is:
In addition to support from the board of directors, Choose New Jersey is funded with the help of Partner-level contributors that include ADP; Advance Realty; Avison Young; Campbell’s; Connell Foley; Cooper Levenson; Elberon Development Group; ELEC Local 825; Ernst & Young; Flemington Car & Truck Company; Genova Burns; IBEW Local 102; IBEW 351; J.F. Kiely Group; J. Fletcher Creamer & Son, Inc.; KPMG; KRE/Silverman Group; McElroy Deutsch; Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP; NJBIA; New Jersey Devils/Prudential Center/ Philadelphia 76ers; Sills Cummis & Gross, P.C.; Solix, Inc.; Spectra Energy Partners; United Airlines; Utility and Transportation Contractors Association and Wells Fargo. It also works closely with its Education Advocates: Fairleigh Dickinson University; Montclair State University; New Jersey City University; NJIT; The College of New Jersey; Thomas Edison State College and William Paterson University.Related Articles: