Brick City Development Corp. CEO Lyneir Richardson has spent the past four years advocating for urban revitalization in Newark. He plans to do the same thing at his next job, except from a broader vantage point.
Richardson will now lead the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers Business School, also based in Newark. He starts his new role March 3.
"It's four blocks away," said Richardson, who moved to Newark from Chicago when taking reins at BCDC. "I'm not leaving the city or leaving the work. I'm taking a different seat at the table."
Richardson said the next phase of Newark's economic development requires more focus on strengthening neighborhoods by better connecting residents to local resources. Rutgers-Newark is the right place to do that, said Richardson, who noted that Chancellor Nancy Cantor has stressed the role of universities as anchors of communities.
The entrepreneurship center pushes urban revitalization by combining academic research with boots-on-the-ground private capital and resources from the public and nonprofit sectors.
"I see the center for urban entrepreneurship at the same place as BCDC when I got here," Richardson said. "It has the resources and the credibility. The task is to make it more impactful. Now make something happen."
Plenty has happened in Newark in the last four years.
Projects include construction of the Panasonic officer tower, arrival of the Marriot and Indigo Hotels, the minority-owned Bartlett Dairy distribution center that serves Starbucks stores in the tri-state area, plus new grocery stores and downtown restaurants like Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. A Whole Foods supermarket is expected to open in 2016.
"All of these deals we took part in, or analyzed, or advocated in some way," Richardson said. "I'm very proud of that."
Richardson's departure leaves more than six weeks for BCDC, the city's economic development organization that runs on a $6.2 million budget, to select a new leader.
Richard Roper, a member of the BCDC board and former director of Planning Department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said the board has yet to discuss its search plan but the next leader needs to build on the city's momentum.
Ropers said Richardson moved the city forward with his practical skills that navigated local politics to gain support from city hall, which is an accomplishment that eludes predecessors.
"Being able to negotiate the city's rocky political waters was one of his strengths," Roper said.
Roper described Richardson as more an operational leader than a visionary, who aggressively sought out small and minority-owned businesses that needed gap funding to boost chances for success.
Richardson helped structure and negotiate various financing, bonds, grants and low-interest loans. Roper said not all loans worked, but many did, leaving the city in better shape.
"Most of economic development activity that has taken place in the last four years, BCDC has had a hand in and Lyneir has guided us," Roper said. "He's a good guy. We are going to miss him."
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