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The Power 100 (No. 30 - 21)

- Last modified: February 6, 2017 at 6:56 AM
30. Tim Lizura (22), Melissa Orsen (28)
30. Tim Lizura (22), Melissa Orsen (28)
The state’s EDA has suffered more heartache than any group should ever have to handle with the recent passings of its chairman, Alfred Koeppe, and former longtime head, Caren Franzini. Then there’s the political and economic reality that the end of the Christie administration will bring an end to the numerous grants and awards the agency has been handing out in recent years. The only positive: Lizura, a longtime executive and the current president and chief operating officer, is still there. And, all insiders agree, should not be impacted by a change in administration. “He’s just such a steady hand,” one insider said. “There’s no one better at what he does. He’s more important than ever. Why would Murphy or anyone else not have a spot for him, whether it’s at the EDA or the Port or somewhere else.” If it’s the EDA, it will come with new challenges. “I think there’s less money to give out and less of an appetite to do that,” another insider said.
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The state’s EDA has suffered more heartache than any group should ever have to handle with the recent passings of its chairman, Alfred Koeppe, and former longtime head, Caren Franzini. Then there’s the political and economic reality that the end of the Christie administration will bring an end to the numerous grants and awards the agency has been handing out in recent years. The only positive: Lizura, a longtime executive and the current president and chief operating officer, is still there. And, all insiders agree, should not be impacted by a change in administration. “He’s just such a steady hand,” one insider said. “There’s no one better at what he does. He’s more important than ever. Why would Murphy or anyone else not have a spot for him, whether it’s at the EDA or the Port or somewhere else.” If it’s the EDA, it will come with new challenges. “I think there’s less money to give out and less of an appetite to do that,” another insider said. She has a well-known connection to the governor and a resume that includes leading the Economic Development Authority, but don’t be fooled, the head of Choose New Jersey is a power player in her own right with a bright future. “She is a connector,” said one insider. “She knows all the key players and does more to help business in the state than people realize. How do I know that’s true? Look at her board. Big companies believe in the work Choose is doing. That wasn’t always the case. She has brought major credibility because of her stature and acumen.” Nothing like a 70-something being a first-timer on the list. Especially a year after his son earned a spot. Is this a realization that we erred or a recognition of the changing times, specifically his longtime relationship with President Donald Trump? “He's one of Trump's closest friends,” one insider said. “He stayed in the game with him until the very end. Never wavered. Always out there, defending him. That counts for a lot. He could head a public infrastructure or a real estate advisory committee. Either way, the connection is key. And don't forget, he helped put Jersey City on the map. They saw it as the sixth borough of New York City. Jersey City wouldn't be what it is without Richard and his father, Sam.” How’s this for leadership: The Allergan CEO, alarmed by the negative reputation the pharmaceutical industry is getting over pricing, last fall released the “Saunders Manifesto,” a five-point proposal that starts by saying, “We will price our products in a way that is commensurate with, or lower than, the value they create.” He goes on to say the company, now based in Ireland but with its U.S. headquarters here in New Jersey, will avoid major price increases while increasing availability of its medicines. John Ballantyne (NR), Kevin Brown (NR), Kevin McCabe (NR), Bill Mullen (65), Ray Pocino (NR), Frank Spencer (65)
The passing of the Transportation Trust Fund bill … a pledge from the president for more infrastructure spending … a new tunnel project to New York City …. and, don’t forget, a race for governor. Labor is primed to have a big year in many areas in 2017, so we offer a collection of leaders who figure to be at the forefront. McCabe works under Ballantyne at the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, but McCabe’s other role — as chairman of the Middlesex County Democrats — gives him even more power. The county always is key in elections. And if Phil Murphy comes out on top, expect McCabe to have influence in the pick to be the next Assembly Speaker. “I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that Kevin is the most powerful county chair this time around,” one insider said. Pocino, the vice president and Eastern regional manager of Laborers’ International Union of North America, scored a big victory when he helped convince Gov. Christie to go for a tax increase to fund the TTF. “Don’t underestimate how big that was,” one insider said. “He got the governor to agree to a tax increase. Even if it was small, that’s a big deal.” Mullen, the president of the New Jersey Building and Construction Trade Council, oversees union efforts on the American Dream project. And Brown, the New Jersey director of the SEIU, is leading the fight for a $15 minimum wage at Newark Airport.
He’s the president of the flagship university in the state. He has accomplished so much, from the merger of the medical schools to the benefits of joining the Big Ten to the stunning turnaround of the school’s football and basketball teams. OK, two out of three ain’t bad. Barchi has been a leader in the more important situations. He’s still behind the scenes a bit. “You never see him out there,” one insider said. But he’s told those around him he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. And he still holds another big distinction: “Always the smartest guy in the room,” another insider said. It’s hard to find a company that is a bigger disruptor of business in the state — and one that is hiring more. That’s Amazon. It’s not just the thousands of jobs the e-commerce titan is adding at the distribution warehouses it is opening. Think about the impact it is having on the shipping and distribution sectors of our state economy. And think about the impact it is having on one of the state’s most iconic companies: Toys R Us. We get it, we get it: Fulop is not going to be the next governor — and that’s not going to be a stepping stone for the young politician that exploded onto the scene a couple of years ago. But don’t forget two things: 1) He’s still the mayor of Jersey City. “He’s still the most important guy in Jersey City, which is one of the biggest economic hubs in the state,” one insider said. “Take away what you thought he might become and what he actually is … is very impressive. The Jersey City story is one any municipality would love to have.” And 2) He’s still young. As the heads of the state’s largest utility, Public Service Enterprise Group and its Public Service Electric & Gas, they are out in front of much-needed infrastructure updates and strong corporate citizens, both in Newark and the state. “How do you measure all of that?” one insider said. “When you think of iconic and important companies, PSE&G is one of the first that comes to mind. And, unlike some others, they embrace the responsibility.” Some politely say that Strangfeld would not want to be on the list, feeling his influence as the head of Prudential is more national, even global. But the impact the company has in the state, especially Newark, is too hard to ignore. “You can talk about the impact Cory Booker had in Newark and Baraka’s ability to follow up, but then ask yourself, where would the city be without the support of Prudential?” an insider said. “It’s something engrained in the company’s DNA and still apparent today.”

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