Joseph E. Gonzalez, former president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association from 1996 to 2003, has passed away at the age of 86. Known for his mastery of the legislative process, Gonzalez was a strong advocate for, and asset to, the state’s business community.
Under his leadership NJBIA won many legislative victories, including the passage of a landmark “brownfields” law to encourage the redevelopment of old industrial sites. During his tenure, he also helped NJBIA block, delay or amend dozens of anti-business bills. Additionally, Gonzalez started the association’s research arm, the New Jersey Policy Research Organization (NJPRO); and launched the annual “Made in New Jersey Day” at the State House, where manufacturers display their Jersey-made products to the governor and lawmakers.
Current NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka commented, “During Joe Gonzalez’s tenure, the association experienced growth in its membership, outreach and depth of research that supported its influential advocacy. To go along with his considerable achievements in Trenton and in business, Joe was also incredibly well-liked and a gentleman.” Siekerka’s full statement can be found here.
Gonzalez joined NJBIA in 1982 to head the association’s lobbying efforts. Before that, he served as executive director of Assembly Republicans for 13 years, and as the right-hand man to then Assembly Speaker, and soon-to-be Governor, Tom Kean.
He was also a founding director of the Hopewell Valley Community Bank. Other boards and committees Gonzalez served on included the NJ Employment Security Council, NJ Alliance for Action, NJ Corporation for Business Assistance, Jersey Shore Partnership, Battleship NJ Commission, NJ World Trade Council, NJ Historical Commission, and the Committee to Reinvest in New Jersey Community Colleges. He was also the former Director of the National Association of Manufacturers and served on the Public Affairs Committee of the US Chamber of Commerce.
Gonzalez was born in Plainfield and is a former member of the Plainfield City Council. A graduate of Gettysburg College, he earned a master’s degree from the Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics.
Upon his retirement from NJBIA, then association chairman Bart Luedeke said of Gonzalez, “His leadership has enabled the association to serve the business community with distinction.”
Gonzalez’s efforts in leading NJBIA and supporting the business community continue to echo through the association and New Jersey’s economic fabric.
The entire NJBIA staff sends its deepest condolences to the Gonzalez family.
Services will be held on May 24th at 11:00 am, at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 177 Princeton Hightstown Rd, Princeton Junction, NJ in West Windsor, NJ. Interment will be private.
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