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NAIOP NJ Fall Meeting Featured CEOs of Fast Track Tech Companies

Three dynamic young CEOs of some of the Garden State’s fastest-growing tech companies shared their perspectives on locating and thriving in N.J. at a recent Chapter meeting of NAIOP New Jersey, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, held at Maritime Parc in Jersey City.

Choose New Jersey President and CEO Michele Brown opened the program, highlighting the state’s recent successes in attracting new employers. “We have many tools available to help real estate professionals bring tenants and investments to their projects,” she said. “Our customized information kit goes beyond square footage to provide companies with data regarding residential communities, top schools, workforce talent and many other factors that contribute to a strong commercial neighborhood,” said Brown.

NAIOP NJ President Clark Machemer, Senior Vice President and Regional Development Officer of The Rockefeller Group, led the CEO discussion. Following are highlights focused on the many variables that attract and retain New Jersey businesses.

Why Companies Choose New Jersey

Rita Gurevich, Founder and President of SPHERE Technology, stressed the importance of market density when relocating or expanding operations in the Garden State. “We selected Jersey City specifically because of the increase in financial services firms in the area,” she said. “We specialize in data security compliance for regulating institutions, mostly global financial firms, and also healthcare and retail. We are close to our customers and can literally map a route to visit our clients in neighboring buildings. It’s a great location for us.”

Machemer credited the Garden State for its diligent efforts to attract companies to the Gold Coast, which has created a hub for synergistic business development.

Access to Talent is Key

According to Chris Sullens, President and CEO of WorkWave, New Jersey possesses a large presence of technology companies, enabling the firm to recruit strong workers. “As part of our growth, we relocated jobs here from Boston,” he noted. Having outgrown space at their current location in Neptune, WorkWave will soon move to Bell Works in Holmdel, N.J. “Today, we have strong employee retention rates and experience only 5% unplanned turnover, ” Sullens said.  “New Jersey needs powerful branding to promote the employment opportunities that exist south of Manhattan.”

The Workforce Makes the Company

“A strong workforce is one of the biggest pluses for this state,” noted Christian Kopfli, CEO and co-founder of Chromocell. The life sciences company, which is focused on the discovery of novel compounds for therapeutics and nutrition, recently took over space in North Brunswick.

Machemer asked about the next generation of corporate professionals, and Gurevich, an alumnus of Steven’s Institute of Technology, responded by stressing the importance of recruiting tomorrow’s leaders from prestigious in-state academic institutions. “Graduates in the areas of engineering, technology and the sciences are the foundation for shaping the growth of the Garden State’s technology industry,” she said.

In addition, panelists emphasized the importance of providing amenities for a new generation of employees. Kopfli discussed how workers today appreciate on-site  amenities as well as the continuing advent of remote services that enable mobility and productivity regardless of where someone works. “We are sitting in a park that is a fantastic assembly of different facilities and companies, and there is still work to be done to grow it into a community,” Kopfli said.

The Metroburb is the New Model

Ralph Zucker, President of Somerset Development, closed the evening with insights on trends shaping the market. “New Jersey’s future is strong as we transform stranded assets into work, play and live environments,” said Zucker. “The new magnet for millennials is the metroburb – an urban core in a great suburban area. To attract young professionals, we must design complexes in areas with convenient mass transit accessibility. Office interiors must encourage interaction and offer organic value-added services to satisfy employees’ lifestyle needs.”

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