A perennial honoree on this list, Norcross runs Parker McCay, the powerful South Jersey law firm. There, he focuses on public finance and transactional law, with an emphasis on municipal, economic development, and redevelopment. Norcross, who has no shortage of connections and relationships in these sectors, represents a variety of governmental and private entities in everything from real estate to private equity to development issues here in the Garden State. He is also part of the activist investor group known as the Norcross-Braca Group, along with his brother, George, and former TD Bank CEO Greg Braca, who are in the midst of a proxy fight over the future of Republic First Bank. And Norcross serves as chairman of the board of trustees for the Cooper Foundation, the charitable arm of Cooper UHC, which has more than 100 funds to support patient care, community outreach and education, as well as research that leads to better treatments and cures. In the fall, the foundation raised a record $3.5 million during its Red Hot Gala in Camden. Since its inception, the event has raised more than $20 million. “The Cooper Foundation plays an important role in furthering Cooper’s mission to serve, heal, and educate the residents of our region,” said Norcross.
“Kevin [O’Dowd] and Dr. [Anthony] Mazzarelli are superstars,” George Norcross III, chairman of the board of trustees, Cooper UHC, recently told NJBIZ. “The best health care managers I’ve worked with in the 40-plus years that I’ve been associated with Cooper.” That is strong praise for the duo who serve as co-CEOs for Cooper University Health Care. Emerging from the pandemic, Cooper had a big 2022 with several major announcements, especially in the latter half of the year and into 2023, which included two credit rating upgrades, a merger agreement with Cape Regional Health Care, and the headliner, a planned $2 billion expansion project in Camden that will dramatically increase the institution’s footprint. “This expansion will give our dedicated professionals the resources, innovation, and flexibility to continue to serve, heal, and educate our community and allow us to further recruit top-notch talent,” said Mazzarelli in September during that announcement. “I’m excited about prospects of continued growth,” O’Dowd recently told NJBIZ. “We’ve experienced a lot of positive growth over the last five years. And when I look out at the five, 10, and 15 years to come, I see nothing but positivity in terms of expanding our reach.”
Since founding the Princeton-based venture capital firm SOSV in 1995, O’Sullivan has built it from a personal investment vehicle into a global organization with more than 120 staff supporting investments in over 150 new startups every year. SOSV made a lot of headlines because of its HAX hard-tech accelerator program, which supports emerging startups. The firm has partnered with the state to bring a $50 million HAX program to Newark. In August, HAX signed a 10-year lease at 702 Broad St. in the city, which will serve as the HAX U.S. headquarters. And in the process, will become a major hub of activity for the state’s burgeoning innovation economy with 100 companies expected to go through the program over the next five years. “From the electric light bulb to the telecommunications and pharmaceutical industries, New Jersey has a long history as the birth-place of industries,” O’Sullivan said. “Gov. Murphy’s vision for innovation and commercialization works hand in glove with HAX’s strategy of igniting an industrial renaissance for the United States. And society as a whole has an urgent need for next generation hard tech companies to solve our current challenges in human and planetary health.”
As chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, O’Toole occupies one of the state’s most powerful and influential posts. The former lawmaker also is the founder and managing partner of powerhouse firm, O’Toole Scrivo. It is a busy time at the Port Authority with a number of high-profile projects happening, including the recently completed new Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport. “Newark Liberty serves a vital role in the region’s economy, and we are committed to enhancing the passenger experience by transforming the airport into one of the premier airports in the world,” said O’Toole at the ribbon cutting. “This is New Jersey’s largest, design-build project, creating opportunities within the local community that is resulting in thousands of jobs to deliver a world-class facility.” And as the Gateway Program continues to take shape with the Portal North Bridge and Hudson Tunnel Projects moving forward and gaining momentum, the Port Authority will be at the center of the most con-sequential infrastructure project in the country. “It is a project of enormous consequence for the many millions of riders who will benefit from it and it will be a significant driver of economic growth for the entire New Jersey-New York region,” O’Toole said after July’s signing of Phase One Memorandum of Understanding.
PrimoHoagies is on a roll. The Westville-based chain known for its specialty sandwiches made with high-quality meats and cheeses on fresh-baked rolls is continuing to expand across the country, with plans to enter five new markets in 2023. Currently, the 30-year-old business has over 95 franchise locations in seven states (Pennsylvania, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina and South Carolina) and aims to open 135 new stores this year as part of a larger goal to launch 300 to 350 sites in the next five years. Papanier, who took over from his father as CEO in 2019, said PrimoHoagies is well on its way to making that happen. Growing up in the family sandwich business, Papanier watched as his father worked with PrimoHoagies founder Richard Neigre to expand the brand. Twenty-three years ago, Papanier officially joined the company as a sandwich maker and moved on to running the shipping warehouse before becoming chief operations officer in 2017. Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, Papanier led PrimoHoagies to record growth that shows no signs of slowing down. PrimoHoagies reported a 22% increase in sales be-tween 2020 and 2021, a period when restaurants struggled because of the pandemic. In 2022, the chain reported another 18% year-over-year in-crease in gross sales. Additionally, the average unit volume of PrimoHoagies’ top 25% of stores rose to $1.35 million in 2022, up from $1.28 million in 2021 and $1.09 million in 2020. As part of its growth strategy, Papanier has lowered franchising fees in addition to building and improving infra-structure to support operators, such as a new point-of-sale system and finance department focused on helping locations increase store revenues. Over the past year, PrimoHoagies also furthered outreach efforts through its charitable organization, PrimoCares. In addition to hosting its annual toy drive and delivery to children in need during the holidays, the company gave away $1,000 a week in November and December to deserving fam-ilies.
As president and chief executive officer of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, Paranicas oversees the trade association for the leading research-based biopharmaceutical and medical technology companies in New Jersey. HINJ works to ensure life sciences companies have a supportive innovation ecosystem to discover and develop new cures and treatments, patients have access to the medicines they need, and that New Jersey remains a global life sciences hub with all of the attendant economic and quality of life benefits. “New Jersey has by my count nine top 10 rankings across various categories in the country in terms of standing relative to peer states. And those nine include three number ones and three number twos, so you can see that we’re talking about — whether it’s the R&D of heart disease, cancer — the number of bioscientists and chemists, the number of cancer drugs and development, manufacturing employees — the standing of the biotech and life sciences community empirically in comparison to peer states … that’s why companies want to come to New Jersey, because they have that concentration here,” he recently told NJBIZ. “That being said, work does need to be done and work and always need to be done. We appreciate the awareness of our elected officials in Trenton, as well as our congressional delegation, of what it means for New Jersey to be a life sciences leader globally. They recognize that. You can’t ignore an economic standing where you represent an economic impact of about $121 billion a year [that] represents about 19% of the state’s GDP.”
As president and CEO of TechUnited New Jersey, Price is a central figure in efforts to promote technology, entrepreneurship and small businesses in the state. He founded NJ Tech Meetup in 2010 and in 2016 created Propelify, a Hoboken tech festival that’s brought thousands of tech pros to town (and thousands of people together virtually earlier in the pandemic). The 2022 edition was a celebration of innovation and corporate citizenship in New Jersey. “I can say with all sincerity this was our best one yet,” Price, said in an Instagram post after the festival had wrapped up. The event featured two stages, the Stage of Inspiration and Stage of Wisdom, which simultaneously produced a full slate of speakers, panels, startup competitions, and more. Price stressed that the last couple of years have been tough on everybody, the most recent event featured broad themes such as better together, building a better planet, driving more inclusive entrepreneurship, and driving tech in health and life sciences. “The theme I started with this morning is about propelling positivity,” said Price during the event. “This is a community of people who propel ideas into action, who want to help one another … I think, in this case, who were really sick of being inside for the last two-ish years. And we’re just all really, really psyched to be here.” Organizers estimated a crowd of more than 5,000 attendees with registration numbers up from 2021 when the event returned to in-person after going virtual in 2020 because of the pandemic.
Quallis is the founder and CEO of Scotch Porter, a grooming and wellness company based in Newark. Scotch Porter’s products aren’t just clean – made from ingredients like aloe, kale and shea butter – they’re also made in New Jersey. And they’re a hit, cropping up across a range of publications – from Vice to Huffington Post to Essence – as recommended gifts or current obsessions. Quallis is also involved with every millennial mom’s favorite store through his capacity as a founder in residence in its Target Accelerator Program, where he mentors minority-brand founders. Beyond that work, paying back is also built into the operations of Quallis’s company, through the Scotch Porter Impact Fund. Launched in the fall, the company has pledged to contribute 2% of online U.S. sales and more than 1% of total sales to the effort — so far garnering more than $238,000 in donations. According the founder, the Fund allows the company to “collectively play a part in advancing the economic empowerment and success of un-derserved, previously excluded groups.” Last spring, the company closed an $11 million funding round. Quallis said the money would go toward scaling operations and expanding its products. “It is my hope that our mission and story inspires future generations to go above and beyond in utilizing their gifts to impart change of their own,” Quallis said.
The former Christie aide leads the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey. Turning 150 years old in 2023, the organization represents businesses in South Jersey’s seven counties, Greater Philadelphia and northern Delaware. And with a handful of new industries cropping up in the state, South Jersey stands poised for some deserved attention. Renna knows it and is ready to take advantage of the moment with and for her member-ship. The CCSNJ primarily represents small businesses, but also counts larger entities such as Subaru and American Water among its members. The region has formed its own film council (with M. Night Shyamalan among those choosing the area’s locales for his latest, “Knock at the Cabin”) and holds appeal for expanding industrial and logistics footprints. But perhaps its biggest boon is blowing in the wind. “[T]he continued focus on wind energy by this Administration has positioned South Jersey to be the wind capital of the Northeast, which will equate to new and high-paying green jobs in the region,” Renna said in response to the governor’s State of the State Address this year, delivered just about the same time the New Jersey Wind Port in Salem County secured its second major tenant. “The CCSNJ is grateful that South Jersey has been given the opportunity to be the birth-place of this budding industry and looks forward to continuing to reap its economic benefits.”
Chief Executive Officer Rottenstrich leads Zago Manufacturing Co., a manufacturer of solutions including self-sealing screws, nuts and bolts that is based in Newark. But this business leader is looking southward, as many are, as the state’s burgeoning wind energy sector starts to pick up steam. Last year, she told NJBIZ that Zago planned to attend a webinar highlighting how New Jersey-based companies can enter the offshore wind industry supply chain and the International Offshore Wind Partnership Forum that took place in Atlantic City in April. She said for her company, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. “We are a sustainable manufacturer, making sustainable sealing solutions for a sustainable world. Our corrosion-resistant, reusable sealing fasteners are specifically designed to shield contaminants, such as saltwater, precipitation, dirt, chemicals and lubricants from seeping into equipment and damaging it or leaking out and potentially harming our environment.” Beyond her work at Zago, Rottenstritch is making moves to foster economic activity in her hometown of Fair Lawn where she’s currently a member of the borough council. In the fall, she was recognized as one of NJBIZ’s Best 50 Women in Business for 2022.
One of the state’s most active developers, Russo leads the business his father founded in 1969 as president of Carlstadt-based Russo Development, specializing in industrial, data center, residential and mixed-use projects. Since taking up the post, Russo’s focus has been on strengthening core competencies and in-house capabilities in addition to expanding across all property types. The firm made its entrance to the Newark residential market in 2022, breaking ground on the 297-unit Vermella Broad Street property. That brand also celebrated a grand opening in Garwood for phase one’s nearly 300 units with phase two of the project under construction across the street. Meanwhile, The Print House in Hackensack – the former home of The Record and Russo Development’s first Opportunity Zone investment – also demonstrated progress this year, reaching 80% leased on its residential component in a matter of months. But maybe the biggest news from the past 12 months is Russo Development’s being tapped as part of the team undertaking the transformative transit-oriented development project at Metropark Station. At the time, Russo praised the Murphy ad-ministration for its creation of public-private partnerships to drive redevelopment across NJ Transit’s portfolio as “not only an imaginative way to catalyze value creation but … visionary in the way it will ultimately enhance the rider experience statewide.” In August, Russo began work on a 200,000-square-foot industrial project in Mahwah that adds in-demand space to the market while also eliminating an outdated office site, a relic from pre-pandemic times and work scenarios, the likes of which are scattered around the state. Outside of his own company, Russo is also an active member of the business community and a member of organizations including NAIOP, Urban Land Institute, the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce, and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.
Supermarket companies don’t get much bigger than Saker ShopRites Inc. At the helm of one of the largest supermarket operators in New Jersey is Saker, a fourth-generation grocer, former chair of the New Jersey Food Council and the biggest stakeholder in Wakefern Food Corp., the Keasbey-based retailer-owned cooperative. With 39 ShopRite stores in Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset, Middlesex, Mercer and Somerset counties, as well as Dearborn Market in Holmdel, 30 pharmacies, two liquor stores, four commissary kitchens and a transit dock facility that supports its local stores, Saker employs over 9,000 associates. During the Food Council Committee for Good Government’s 48th annual Good Government Breakfast in October 2022, Saker, who serves as the organization’s chair, described the food distribution industry as “more resilient” as it emerges from the pandemic. And while the industry “still faces challenges from these experiences,” Saker said legislators and officials in Trenton “understand that Food Council members are anchors of our communities.” He went on, “New Jersey residents depend on our members for health and wellness, for their generous charitable giving and support of foodbanks and civic groups, our community assistance during emergencies and vaccine distribution during COVID. It goes without saying New Jersey food retailers are beyond essential, and a vital and significant part of the state’s well-being.” Over the years, more than 1,300 organizations in Central Jersey have benefited from the company’s donations, including the Joan Dancy & Pals ALS foundations. Additionally, Saker supports ShopRite’s Partners in Caring hunger-fighting initiative.
If you’re looking for evidence of the flight to quality taking place among office users, why not take a look at Onyx Equities, the real estate investment and property service company co-founded and run by Managing Principals John Saraceno and Jonathan Schultz. In addition to attracting tenants like WebMD to Newark, its updated Gateway Center is gearing up to debut The Junction, a concourse with 100,000 square feet of retail and dining options from both local and internationally known operators. At the former home of AT&T in Morristown a $50 million capital improvement plan has drawn big names and footprints, with Morgan Stanely and Zelis signing on for a combined nearly 170,000 square feet this past fall. Since its founding in 2004 Onyx has acquired more than $3 billion worth of real estate assets throughout New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut and executed over $400 million in asset repositioning projects across all property types. At repositioned retail complex Hazlet Town Center, the firm has seen occupancy rise from 25% at the time of acquisition to 92% in January following the addition of a trio of tenants. In June, the firm received NAIOP’s Impact Award, which recognizes those who have made a significant mark on New Jersey’s commercial and industrial real estate development industry. But the true extent of that impact remains to be seen. “I think the thing that sort of most defines Onyx is after we buy something, we try and leave it better than when we got it,” Saraceno said accepting the NAIOP award. “[T]here’s nothing that we’ve ever owned or sold or still own that isn’t better than when we got it.” In October, Onyx was part of a JV tapped as developer for a transit-oriented development at Metropark in Woodbridge – the company’s homebase – that will transform the station, adding Class A office space, housing opportunities and more, and most certainly presenting another opportunity to leave something better.
Making the leap from stage to screen, NJPAC found a lion of a partner for getting a foothold in the state’s resurgent film and production industry. Lionsgate, it was announced over the summer, in partnership with Great Point Studios and NJPAC will anchor a $125 million, 12-acre production facility in Newark. NJPAC, which Schreiber leads as president and CEO, will manage public affairs and community relations for the project in addition to creating educational programs and internships for high school and university students in the city – work it pursues similarly from its base on Center Street. The concept for the 300,000-square-foot project originated between NJPAC and the city. Lionsgate Newark is anticipated to create 600-plus new, long-term jobs, according to the city, and generate more than $800 million of annual economic impact. Having helped to foster the parameters of an unofficial arts section in Newark, NJPAC stands to gain, too, from plans revealed in June to create the Newark Arts and Education District to help enhance arts and cultural institutions and what they bring to the fabric of the city. Meanwhile, the organization is embarking on a $152 million project to create a neighborhood of its own. The project will bring housing – multifamily buildings, townhomes and condos – along with retail outlets and restaurants to the city’s riverfront. NJPAC is providing the vision – and a ground lease – for the new district. “Contributing to the ongoing revitalization of Newark’s downtown has always been central to the Arts Center’s mission as the city’s anchor cultural institution,” Schreiber said when the plan was announced. It’s undeniable that NJPAC continues to look toward the future, with Schreiber leading the way.
Schwartz is currently the chair of Strategic Planning and Development and previously the managing member of Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC. He was most recently responsible for coordinating many of the details for the firm’s build-out of its new 120,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art headquarters, working closely with the firm’s management and lease committee to ensure that goals and objectives were met. According to the firm, as managing member Schwartz helped increase revenue, headcount and geographic footprint — expanding its New York activities and recruiting dozens of attorneys across a variety of practice areas as well as adding new practices that anticipated client needs.
“Running a business in New Jersey is not for the faint of heart,” Siekerka wrote as she introduced the New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s theme for 2023: The Year of the Business Owner. As president and CEO of the NJBIA, which has more than 20,000 members, Siekerka is one of the leading voices at the intersection of the critical business and policy decisions here in the great Garden State. She regularly advocates for the business community on a range of top issues while also expanding member services and resources. And she was an especially helpful resource for businesses throughout the throes of COVID-19 and as they confront this complex post-pandemic world. “Against this backdrop, NJBIA in 2023 is launching a yearslong grassroots campaign spotlighting the triumphs and challenges that are part of running a business in New Jersey,” Siekerka said. “We want to hear about the ways business owners have adapted to navigate the economic chaos unleashed by the pandemic, what inspires them to work hard and push forward, and what their strategies are to grow their operations and profits in 2023 and beyond.” And she has pushed hard for the governor and legislative leaders to do more to address affordability for New Jersey small businesses. “In NJBIA’s 2023 Business Outlook Survey, 82% of businesses said that New Jersey is either somewhat affordable or not affordable at all for businesses. That is not rhetoric. Rather, it reflects what we and our business advocacy peers hear literally every day,” she said.
Small is chairman of Hackensack University Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry and serves as physician-in-chief for Behavioral Health at Hackensack Meridian. And he is the inaugural H. Hovnanian Family Foundation Endowed Chair in Behavioral Health at Hackensack Meridian Health, which was created with a $3 million donation from its eponymous philanthropy. Small joined HMH in 2020 and oversees educational programs and training. He is also responsible for his department’s clinical operations and develops and expands research and academic programs, in addition to developing and maintaining quality initiatives. He also leads recruiting efforts for physicians within the behavioral health field. In an interview with NJBIZ not long after he arrived at HMH, Small said he was impressed by the health system’s commitment to behavioral health. As the health care network continues to expand its services and capabilities – something CEO Bob Garrett mentions frequently – Small’s leadership will only grow in importance.
A nationally recognized civil rights attorney with a reputation for fighting and winning employment law cases, Smith is best known for representing Gretchen Carlson and Julie Roginsky in their sexual harassment suits against Fox News and its former chief executive officer Roger Ailes. After co-founding Smith Mullin in Montclair with her husband Neil Mullin, Smith’s 30-plus year career has included several important victories in cases against NJ Transit, Essex County Sheriff’s Office, WWOR-TV, Prudential Insurance Co., Rutgers University and IBM Corp. Smith also speaks widely on employment law issues and is sought after by media for commentary on discrimination and harassment.
Sommer is the CEO of Awsom Associates and an adviser and confidante to anyone who matters in Democratic politics in this state. And some Re-publicans, including those at high levels. As the state’s political pros gear up for a presidential race next year and a gubernatorial campaign – with no incumbent – in 2025, Sommer’s counsel will be highly sought after. Outside of campaigns, he can be counted upon to make connections and provide important context to a variety of political and policy issues. He knows the personalities, the histories and the motivations of the state’s most important political players, including South Jersey boss George Norcross. New Jerseyans’ understanding of the state is shaped in no small measure by Sommer’s guidance to those responsible for reporting the news. Sommer is also a former president of Rock Entertainment Group, president of Observer Media Group, and was a partner and executive vice president of national PR firm MWW. In addition to running his own communications, government relations and public affairs firm, Sommer teaches a class called Public Policy Advocacy at Rutgers University’s Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.
Last year, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, the state’s biggest health insurer which St. Hilaire leads as president and CEO, received big news when its application to reorganize its corporate structure was approved by the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance. Though the deal is not without controversy – a lawsuit filed at the end of 2022 sought to halt the transformation on the grounds it does not best serve the interest of the insurer’s 3.6 million participants – it is in motion under legislation from 2020 that laid the pathway for the change. With St. Hilaire at the helm, in 2020 the company also successfully launched innovative Medicare Advantage joint venture Braven Health (along with partners Hackensack Meridian Health and RWJBarnabas Health) to drive higher quality and more affordable health care. This past fall, that effort expanded and is now available throughout the state’s 21 counties. When it comes to positive feedback, Horizon and St. Hilaire received reassuring news from users in 2022 when J.D. Power ranked the insurer tops for customer satisfaction among commercial health plans in the state. It marked the third consecutive year receiving the distinction – quite the feat for St. Hilaire, considering that timeline covers the onset and worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Being there when our members need us most has been in our company’s DNA for 90 years and it is what drives everyone at Horizon to bring our mission to life every day,” he said at the time.
As president and CEO of Suburban Propane, Stivala runs a national gas distribution company from its headquarters in Whippany. And last summer, he added another title: chairperson for the New Jersey Regional Council of the American Red Cross. “As one of the most influential nonprofit organizations in the world, the American Red Cross has been on the front lines of many of the most significant humanitarian efforts in history,” Stivala said when his appointment was announced. “Through the national partnership that Suburban Propane has enjoyed since 2012, as well as through my personal engagement with the many leaders, volunteers and employees of the Red Cross, I have gained first-hand knowledge of its critical mission in serving local communities here in New Jersey, and around the world.” In business, Stivala has positioned Suburban Propane for the green future envisioned by leaders in New Jersey and around the country by investing in new energy sources. Suburban Renewables is the platform for those investments, which include a 25% equity stake in Independence Hydrogen Inc. Last spring, the company unveiled a collaboration with Iwatani Corp. of America to advance the adoption of low-carbon alternative energy solutions across the propane market. The effort is focused on advancing investments in hydrogen infrastructure and transportation services across the country. “We are leading the way to decarbonizing the propane industry, and this collaboration will help drive even more aggressive carbon reduction in multiple applications,” Stivala said.
Strom, the chancellor of Rutgers School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, is ranked among the most prominent sources of information about the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. Now that the pandemic has receded, Strom is focusing on the future. Last April, the school released One RBHS: The Way Forward, a strategic plan to guide the next chapter of work at the School of Biomedical and Health Sciences. “This ambitious road map builds upon our many accomplishments and proposes new and exciting avenues as we drive toward our vision to be a model for health care access and quality, research and innovation, interprofessional education and community engagement within the next five years,” Strom said at the time. At the start of the most recent school year, he spoke out about monkeypox. In August, Rutgers announced it would conduct the largest study of children at high risk of developing Type 1 diabetes; Strom is a coinvestigator on the team, which aims to develop a tool to help clinicians in identifying these children. Among his other achievements at Rutgers is the establishment of a formal partnership with RWJBarnabas Health to create New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive academic health system. That relationship will evolve further (not only is RWJ involved with the project, but so is Hackensack Meridian Health) with the $665 million New Jersey Innovation and Technology Hub coming to New Brunswick, which Princeton University will also use. There, the Rutgers Translational Research Facility and a new academic medical building will be components of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, under Strom’s guidance.
Sugden, the managing partner of Edison Partners, is one of New Jersey’s most prominent private capital executives. The firm’s portfolio companies are located outside Silicon Valley in 18 states. It has made more than 261 investments and 214 exits and boasts $1.6 billion in assets under management. Last year, the firm led an investment round for end-to-end real estate brokerage and homeownership platform Houwzer, raising $118 million in Series B financing, including $18 million in equity funding. Sugden himself has led dozens of new investments and nearly 50 rounds of financing. He’s served as director of more than 25 portfolio companies and currently sits on the board of six of them. Last spring, the firm closed its 10th fund — the largest in its 36-year history. Edison Partners X, oversubscribed at $450 million, is the firm’s third consecutive fund dedicated to growth equity since 2015. Addressing the gap in the $10 million to $30 million emerging market in geographies outside of Silicon Valley, the firm said Fund X includes seven investments, five of which are from underserved geographies: Kaiyo (New York), MacroFab (Houston), Prepaid Technologies (Birmingham), Recycle Track Systems (New York), Slingshot Aerospace (Austin), Solutions by Text (Dallas) and Spiffy (Charlotte, N.C.). “Fund X continues Edison Partners’ successful track record, some would call an ‘old-school,’ disciplined approach to investing in and growing capital-efficient, high-growth businesses in fintech, health care IT, and enterprise SaaS outside Silicon Valley,” Sugden said.
Since taking over as CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority in 2018, Sullivan has been a close ally to Gov. Phil Murphy, and has been at the center of the governor’s efforts to shape his vision for the New Jersey economy. Sullivan has overseen the creation of a number of new programs and initiatives focused on spurring economic development while supporting the state’s business community, especially during the darkest days of the pandemic and now as companies emerge from it. During the pandemic, the NJEDA developed and implemented more than 15 programs under the Economic Recovery Act of 2020, providing more than $700 million in COVID-19 relief to the state’s small business community. He has also helped usher in and build up several burgeoning industries here in the Garden State such as the innovation economy, offshore wind, film and television, and more while integrating them with New Jersey’s established sectors like life sciences, and revitalizing others such as manufacturing. “One of the most important things in any economy is to have a diversified economy,” Sullivan told NJBIZ. “It’s more resilient that way because every single industry goes through ups and downs and peaks and valleys. The more diversification you can have in your economy, the better.”
After launching TerraCycle in 2001 as a freshman at Princeton University, Szaky’s venture has become a global leader in the collection and repurposing of otherwise non-recyclable pre- and post-consumer waste. With operations in 21 countries, TerraCycle is now multimillion-dollar enterprise that helps some of the world’s largest companies operate more sustainably by creating platforms to recycle products and packaging that would otherwise end up in a landfill or incinerator. In 2019, Szaky launched Loop, one of the first platforms to partner with retailers to provide consumers with a way to go from single-use packaging to reusable options. Loop ended 2022 with about 150 active retail locations worldwide, including partnerships with supermarket chains in Washington, D.C., and Oregon, home delivery for Walmart customers in Arkansas, and the rollout of the first nationwide cloth diaper service offering delivery, pick-up and professional cleaning anywhere in the continental U.S.
Torcicollo stepped into the role of managing director of Gibbons PC, the state’s top lawyer-lobbying firm, in February 2022 after longtime leader Patrick Dunican became executive chair. During his three decades with the firm, Torcicollo served 15 years as co-chair of the commercial and criminal litigation group and built a broad-based commercial litigation practice. Known for his experience handling disputes related to construction and contracts, Torcicollo’s legal accomplishments include securing a settlement allowing American Dream to move forward without inconveniencing the New York Jets or Giants, which had raised concerns the megamall could cause major traffic and parking problems.
A well-known cannabis advocate, attorney and founder of one of New Jersey’s few dispensaries not run by a multistate operator, Trent is setting an example for entrepreneurs looking to enter the state’s emerging industry. In December 2022, the West Windsor native officially opened Valley Wellness, a woman-owned enterprise and Somerset County’s first medical cannabis dispensary, giving patients in the Raritan River Valley area who are seeking relief an option much closer to home. As part of her ongoing commitment to promote responsible cannabis use and create an educated workforce for the space, Trent founded NJ Cannabis Certified, a 15-hour educational certificate program taught in conjunction with eight community colleges across the state. Since its March 2020 launch, more than 1,000 students have completed the course, which covers laws, regulations, plant physiology, cultivation techniques, manufacturing processes, the effects of cannabis on the body and what it’s like to work in a dispensary.
Founded in 1936 by Spanish immigrant Prudencio Unanue Ortiz, Goya Foods grew to become the largest Hispanic-owned U.S. food company. Now run by Ortiz’s grandsons, Bob and Peter, the Jersey City-based company is the leader in Latin American food and condiments, manufacturing, pack-aging and distributing over 2,500 high-quality food products from Spain, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America. In September 2022, Goya expanded its digital footprint to launch an e-commerce site that allows consumers to order products online and have them shipped directly to their home. The company is also known for its ongoing commitment to providing disaster relief and humanitarian aid through the Goya Gives initiative, which, Bob Unanue described as “a top priority for La Gran Familia Goya.” Within the past few months, Goya rallied to help victims of Hurricane Ian and Fiona, as well as residents in Buffalo following one of the worst blizzards in the city’s history. The company also donated 4.5 million pounds of food during the COVID-19 pandemic, over 1 million pounds of food to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and more than 400,000 pounds of food to the starving people of Venezuela during civic unrest. Goya also gave over a million pounds of food to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, as well as at home in New Jersey in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and Hurricanes Isaac, Harvey, Irene and Ida. And, despite calls on social media for a boycott of Goya products after Bob Unanue praised former president Donald Trump, the company posted a 22% jump in sales in the two weeks after the controversy erupted in July 2020, according to research released in August 2022 by Cornell University. The study cited brand loyalty and the difficulties of finding an adequate substitute for Goya as reasons why the effort was unsuccessful.
In October, Veldhoven was appointed as the first chief executive officer for Atlantic Offshores Wind LLC, which is overseeing Atlantic Shores Project 1, the largest single offshore wind project awarded in New Jersey and the third largest in the country. The project, which will be located 10 to 20 miles off the coast of Atlantic City, is a partnership between Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF-RE Offshore Development LLC. It is estimated to generate enough clean energy to power more than 700,000 homes and bring more than $800 million in economic benefits to the state. “Joris has been a key member of the Atlantic Shores team and has helped shape and grow the company since the start,” said Amanda Dasch, Shell vice presi-dent offshore power Americas, RE&S. In January, Atlantic Shores signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to become the second major tenant at the New Jersey Wind Port, which is being constructed in Lower Alloways Creek, Salem County. “The location offers outstanding waterside access without barriers to transporting assembled turbines vertically and allows us to tap into New Jersey’s highly skilled talent pool and robust workforce development programs,” Veldhoven said. “In conjunction with our on-site nacelle assembly facility, Atlantic Shores is proud to contribute to New Jersey’s infrastructure and clean energy economy.”
Williams is the CEO of WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM, the Newark public radio station. As a prominent broadcast outlet, WBGO is an anchor institution in the city and a vital part of its cultural life. “We are part of the reason why people view Newark in in a variety of great ways. We know how some people view Newark and maybe that has some cultural or ethnic implications, but in the end, believe me, you know it ain’t all good,” Williams told NBIZ. “But the fact that WBGO represents something so progressive and so meaningful, honest in the lives of so many people, and will continue to do that — that’s where we are, we are firmament, we are anchor, we are real.” In recent months, WBGO has revamped its daily schedule, bringing in new voices and expanding some of its long-running shows, including the popular Rhythm Revue. The show, which presents classic soul and R&B, began on Saturdays, but now also runs on Sunday and serves as the centerpiece to Rhythm and Song Weekends. The station is also an important, independent provider of news and information for the community and hosts a call-in show with Gov. Phil Murphy.
Zaro was one of the biggest advocates for the $30 billion Gateway project, which calls for the construction of a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River, a new Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River and an expansion of New York’s Penn Station. In 2018, he was named as New Jersey’s trustee on the Gateway Development Corp., a position he also held until the end of 2022 with the subsequent Gateway Development Commission, the bi-state group overseeing the effort. Zaro is chair of the Banking and Real Estate Services Department at Sills Cummis & Gross, a full-service corporate law firm with offices in New York and New Jersey, where he focuses his practice on banking and finance, real estate, corporate and government matters. In addition to his legal background, Zaro has held several commission and cabinet-level posts in the administrations of the last eight consecutive New Jersey governors, including commissioner of the New Jersey Highway Authority and commissioner of the Sports and Exposition Authority. He was also recently appointed by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to the New York Racing Association (NYRA) board of directors.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 2:24 p.m. ET on Feb. 20, 2023, to clarify that Jerry Zaro is no longer a Gateway Development Commission trustee.