Everyone loves lists. Readers can spend as much or as little time with them as they want. There is no real narrative to follow. The structure offers an easy way to locate the most interesting characters, data points or factoids. Given shorter attention spans and exponentially increasing online outlets, lists have become the most common vehicle for delivering news and information in the internet age.
Reading a really good list is fun. Compiling a really good list … not so much. It’s a lot of work.
Indeed, a lot of work went into compiling the NJBIZ Power 100 list. The entire editorial staff was involved, sharing insights gleaned from daily reporting and offering analysis of who the important players are in New Jersey right now.
That part was relatively easy: reporters follow and interview influential people every day. By definition, the individuals making news – elected officials, high-ranking bureaucrats, go-to lawyers and lobbyists, prominent activists – are the folks to watch.
But for this list, at least, we wanted to look beyond what is happening right now in the statehouse, the courts and city hall. We wanted to identify economic actors who are in positions to help shape the future. These people may not be on NJTV News every night, but if they are successful New Jersey will be a better state in which to live, work and do business.
So who can do that? Well, people like Aisha Glover of the Newark Alliance and Leslie Anderson of the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority. Both are in the business of revitalizing the state’s distressed communities and have been handed a new tool – the federal Opportunity Zone program championed in Washington by Sen. Cory Booker – to accomplish what many observers see as a daunting task. Their success would quite literally change the state’s economic landscape.
Or Mark Clouse and Richard Barry, who have been handed the stewardship of two iconic names in American business – Campbell’s Soup and Toys R Us. At Campbell, Clouse must reverse the declining fortunes of the Camden-based food company in the face of quickly changing consumer tastes. And Barry must somehow take what’s left of the once-dominant toy seller following a liquidation – essentially a collection of brands – and rebuild the business in a sector now dominated by Amazon.com Inc. Their successes would restore two storied companies to their positions among the state’s economic stalwarts.
Then there’s Cory Booker. The state’s junior U.S. senator is busy on the campaign trail seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. His success would land him on the national ticket – as either president or vice president – and immeasurably enhance the state’s clout in Washington. How quickly would the Gateway rail infrastructure project move with Booker in the West Wing?
Of course, success is not guaranteed. But it’s fun to imagine what the state would be like if all of these folks accomplished even some of what they are setting out to do. And because of that, compiling this list actually turned out to be … fun.
Enjoy reading this year’s Power 100 and let us know what you think about our choices.