As president and CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Tom Bracken hosts the biggest annual networking event for New Jersey businesses, government officials and journalists: The Walk to Washington. Most readers have been on at least one trip — a day of schmoozing on a chartered Amtrak train that ends with more schmoozing after a dinner of speeches by the governor, U.S. senators and representatives.
This year’s Walk was cancelled for obvious reasons. Last year’s trip was likely the last big event many of the state’s executives and politicians attended — two weeks after the train returned to New Jersey, much of the state shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Of course, many businesses kept going, and Gov. Phil Murphy has, with some fits and starts, been easing restrictions for several months. Over that time Bracken and the organization he leads has had to find new ways of operating, just as Chamber members have done. In the latest edition of NJBIZ Conversations, Editor Jeff Kanige spoke with Bracken about plans for next year’s Walk, how the Chamber has been serving its members and what he thinks about New Jersey’s response to the pandemic.
“I’m not sure there’s a state that’s handled it better, and you have to give the governor and Judy Persichilli, the Commissioner of the Department of Health, a lot of credit for what they’ve done there,” he said. “But we’ve also had a concurrent economic crisis, in addition to that medical crisis — that still needs a lot of work and you can you see now the Legislature and the governor starting to focus more on the economic crisis, which is good. It needs a lot of help and needs a lot of input and needs a lot of structural changes and the quicker, we can get the focus on that the better.” Watch the full interview here.