Choose New Jersey – a nonprofit marketing arm for the Garden State – has picked career diplomat and Murphy administration official Wesley Matthews as its next president and chief executive officer, effective this February.
“New Jersey is a major global contender for companies to grow and expand their businesses,” Matthews said in the Tuesday announcement. “I look forward to leveraging my experience to build upon the progress that Jose and the Choose New Jersey team made in recent years.”
The nonprofit’s outgoing president and CEO since 2018, Jose Lozano, announced in December that he’ll step down to become a senior vice president of business at Hackensack Meridian Health.
Matthews had numerous stints within the U.S. Department of State between 2008 and 2018, including at the embassies for India, Germany, Nigeria and Pakistan and most recently, at the U.S. embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, according to the announcement. There, he was tasked with managing bilateral economic and energy policies between the two nations.
He was also an a financial and business development executive at Nortel Networks and FedEx.
In 2018 and 2019, he was “on loan” from Foggy Bottom to establish New Jersey’s Office of International Trade and Investment within the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. Under his tenure, the office was tasked with luring overseas investment and business moves to the Garden State. And, he was New Jersey’s “liaison to the federal government on trade and investment issues,” Choose NJ added.
“When Wes was a part of our team at the EDA, he played a critical role in many of Choose New Jersey and EDA’s major initiatives, particularly Gov. Murphy’s successful trade missions to India, Germany and Israel – and with his breadth of diplomatic and commercial experiences I know he will be an extraordinary ambassador for New Jersey at home and abroad,” reads a statement from NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan.
Choose NJ said last February that it was able to lure 33 separate businesses to the Garden State in 2020.
Choose NJ’s board members and supporters include some of the state’s largest employers, like Amazon, HMH, PSEG, NJM Insurance Group, professional services firm EY, the New York Giants, United Airlines, PNC Bank, Prudential and the Prudential Arts Center, Onyx Equities LLC and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.
The nonprofit has sponsored several major trade missions by New Jersey leaders and business executives to various nations in order to market the Garden State, most recently to Israel last month. Those trips notched major wins for the state, including Teva Pharmaceuticals’ move to New Jersey, though that deal and the state’s $40 million tax break to them came under fire for the company’s alleged role in the opioid epidemic.
Still, several major employers have opted to pick New Jersey as their next location, including BeiGene with its outpost in Hopewell Township, Fiserv in Berkeley Heights; WebMD and the HAX Accelerator in Newark; and Party City in Woodcliff Lake.