newark vibrant
Economic Development

NRBP Helps Make Connections to Build a Vibrant Newark

The Newark Regional Business Partnership’s role in bringing together people from different industries and organizations, as well as providing tailored services to them, has been a boost to the city’s ongoing revitalization.

The Newark Regional Business Partnership (NRBP), the greater Newark-region’s premier business membership organization/chamber of commerce, can trace its roots back to 1869 when it was established as the Newark Board of Trade. After several name changes over many years, the organization was renamed to NRBP in 2006 to reflect its regional reach and Newark-centric focus. Today, NRBP and its nearly 400 members continue to make a difference in Newark.

“While about half of our members are located outside of Newark, all of our members have a vested interest in the city,” notes Barbara E. Kauffman, executive vice president & COO.

“We are connectors. Every day, we connect members to information and the right people so that they can be successful. That is what we are all about,” relates Chip Hallock, president & CEO of the organization.

“Our edge as an organization is that we really go to great lengths to find the right connection at the right time,” Kauffman clarifies. “That can mean direct introductions to people, or access to information and resources. In addition to making direct connections, we produce programs with speakers who are leaders.

Because NRBP members represent many different industries, the organization is able to make introductions for a wide range of business needs. Its membership is comprised of professional service firms, educational institutions, hospital systems, small local businesses, and not-for-profit organizations.

The transportation industry is another important voice in the chamber. With Newark hosting a major seaport, key logistics, trucking and rail connections, as well as one of the world’s largest airports, transportation plays a vital role in the NRBP’s outreach and development efforts.

Every day, NRBP is proactively supporting economic development efforts in Newark with programs and information that help members network and provoke successful outcomes for the city and region.

Recent NRBP programs and initiatives include:

  • Hosting forums with Mayor Ras Baraka and Senator Cory Booker
  • Targeted support of local small businesses via the Small and Emerging Business Initiative (SEBI) program (in partnership with Prudential Financial)
  • Networking events that bring together members with civic and business leaders including municipal officials, members of Congress, and corporate executives for thoughtful exchanges
  • Incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion into all programs

Access to Govn’t Officials

NRBP provides multiple opportunities for members to hear from and engage with government officials and municipal leaders. Each year in June, NRBP hosts a forum with Mayor Baraka where he provides updates on his administration’s programs and plans for the future. Additionally, programs like the Transportation Awards Breakfast provide opportunities to hear from state and local leaders. This year’s program featured a keynote address from Sen. Booker.

SEBI: Supporting Emerging Businesses

Thanks to financial support from Prudential Financial, complimentary annual NRBP membership privileges are being extended to 20 minority-owned, women-owned, small, and emerging businesses. Potential members must be nominated or referred by a lender or business development organization. According to Hallock, the program is an excellent way to display the value of chamber participation to emerging enterprises.

NRBP’s DEI Initiative

NRBP leadership is also proud of its growing diversity, equity and inclusion initiative. Spearheaded by Maya Curry, vice president of communications, diversity, equity and inclusion, the effort grew from a realization that participation among members did not reflect the true makeup or needs of the community. “We noticed a lack of diversity in our program attendees and wanted to ensure that we were encouraging and creating opportunities for a broad range of people to participate,” Curry notes.

“We started building our DEI initiative about five years ago, before systemic racism and similar topics were part of mainstream conversation,” Curry says. “We surveyed our members to gain a strong baseline of what they already knew and what they were interested in learning, and then we launched introductory programming which reflected the findings. Today, we continue to host DEI-focused programs while also working to include DEI as a component in all of our programs in an effort to reach a wider range of members,” Curry explains.

NRBP’s Hallock sums it all up: “Our members have always had a sense of corporate responsibility. Mayor Baraka has so excellently challenged the business community to help all of Newark and its residents rise up to new heights … and it is happening.”

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

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