Kennedy Announces Retirement From NJMEP, Connelly Will Take Over as CEO

John Kennedy, chief executive officer and center director of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP), announced he will retire from the organization on May 31 after 12 years of service. Peter C. Connolly, current NJMEP chief operating officer (COO), will take Kennedy’s place as the new CEO/center director.

“Ever since I stepped in as CEO, the workforce has been the No. 1 concern among manufacturers in New Jersey and throughout the nation,” Kennedy stated. “The fact that during my 12 years with NJMEP we helped create and retain nearly 50,000 jobs in the industry is an accomplishment that will stick with me for my entire life. Manufacturers had a need, and we played a direct role in helping them overcome this imposing challenge.”

Kennedy said he is considering options to stay involved in the industry, perhaps as a senior advisor.  “I believe that there is a little value-add left in me,” he commented, explaining that supply chain and workforce development issues are areas in which he can lend valuable advice and assistance.

He thanked everyone in the industry and business community for their energy, which helped manufacturers get through events such as Superstorm Sandy and the COVID-19 pandemic. “Now, we are handling supply chain and reshoring issues that includes the offshore wind industry build-up. None of these things could be handled by a single individual,” Kennedy said.

Among NJMEP’s partners in the business community is the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, which last year, launched the Manufacturing Counts initiative with NJMEP to unite, broaden and strengthen support for manufacturing businesses.

According to NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka, “John Kennedy has had a profound impact on New Jersey’s manufacturing industry during his tenure. His legacy will be known as one of commitment, dedication, proactivity and persistence. NJBIA has enjoyed working alongside John in advancing a robust manufacturing agenda and we look forward to continuing to work with Peter and the team.”

Peter Connolly joined NJMEP in September 2022 as COO and was later featured on NJBIA’s Minding Your Business about his new role.

Prior to that, he was president of Mahwah-based aviation firm Shock Tech, Inc., while serving as an NJMEP board member for 14 years, including holding the position of chairperson.

Shock Tech doubled in size over four years due to Connolly’s skills at developing new business strategies and relationship selling, manufacturing, and increasing business through customer service.

He began his career at DRS, where he held key management positions including vice president of business development and vice president/general manager. Connelly earned a bachelor’s degree from Glassboro State College.

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