The Somerset County Business Partnership executive committee named former Vice President of Business Services Chris Edwards as president and chief executive officer, succeeding Mike Kerwin who will retire March 13.
Edwards has served in his current position at the Somerset County Business Partnership since May 2018. He was previously director of business development from March 2013 to May 2018.
“My priorities are attracting and retaining talent and making the business partnership a one-stop-shop for business, whether it’s a brick-and-mortar mom and pop shop or a major corporation,” Edwards told NJBIZ.
Edwards wants to maintain the business partnership’s role as a center of leadership in a culture of collaboration to “set Somerset County up for success by grooming a new generation of leaders.”
On Wednesday, the Business Partnership will start an emerging leaders board of directors with a goal of providing younger business professionals with professional development tools and leadership discussions about what is happening in Somerset County.
“I want to be able to go out to companies and have them identify people who they see as leaders and for us to help groom them along the way,” Edwards said. “We live in an age where people have a million things they can be focusing on. Now it is harder than ever to get people engaged at either networking events or educational classes. We have to cut through the noise of everything else that is going on around us and provide direct return on investment to our members.”
Prior to his hiring at the Business Partnership, Edwards served as director of resource development at United Way of Ocean County and as a congressional staffer for the U.S. Rep. John Adler and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6, focusing on government relations.
Upon joining the Somerset County Business Partnership, Edwards created the Nonprofit Council and reorganized the Young Professionals Division. As vice president of business services he was charged with providing value to members to achieve the goals of the strategic plan. In that capacity, he led a task force that created a new website featuring a business resource hub and worked closely with the economic development and tourism divisions to develop a toolkit of services to support Somerset County employers.=