The NJBIZ Power 100 Jared Kushner is the most powerful person in business in New Jersey

Jessica Perry//February 6, 2017

The NJBIZ Power 100 Jared Kushner is the most powerful person in business in New Jersey

Jessica Perry//February 6, 2017

He has divested himself from Kushner Cos., the family business in New Jersey. And he’s moved to Washington, D.C. So, how is it that Jared Kushner has done the seemingly impossible: Knock the governor with the most power in the nation out of the top spot on the NJBIZ Power 100 for the first time?

The answers are surprisingly simple: In his role as senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, Kushner will have incredible power and influence over many decisions that will impact not only New Jersey businesses, but New Jersey residents.

Let’s start with the Gateway Project, the proposed new tunnel to Manhattan. It not only would solve a commuting issue that will hamper the state’s future, it would bring an unprecedented number of jobs and construction contracts to the state. And, while it would be the biggest infrastructure project the state (if not the country) has ever seen, it may also be just one of many, considering the president’s pledge to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.

“Imagine the infrastructure jobs that will come here,” said one insider. “Isn’t that what this is all about? Creating jobs.”

Then there’s health care. Whether it’s repeal, replace or reform, Kushner will have the president’s ear on an issue that impacts every New Jersey company.

“If you’re on Medicare or Medicaid, Jared will have a big influence on you,” said another.

And let’s not forget about the job of U.S. Attorney for New Jersey. Expect Kushner to have influence in that selection, as well.

If you think having someone with so much power live so far away would be a problem for the state’s business executives, think again. Kushner was an almost universal selection for the top spot by those consulted for our rankings. One big reason: He’s a known quantity.

“The guy has got real Jersey bones on business,” another insider said. “He’s totally familiar with the landscape: the key players, the key areas, the key issues.”

And many, quite frankly, were impressed by the power he already has shown. “If he’s the guy who pushed Chris Christie out of the top spot, that’s pretty powerful,” said one.

Another put it another way: “He’s the reason why Chris Christie is still governor.”

The rest of our Power 100 coverage:

Letter from Editor: Why Kushner over Christie and a push for more women

Who fell off the list

How we pick the list

Previous Top 10s