The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce honored four legislators, the head of the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and a tireless New Jersey energy company executive - all of whom have gone above and beyond to help recharge New Jersey's business climate - at a reception in Pennington on Oct. 11.
The event, held at the Bank of America Hopewell Conference Center, attracted 150 guests, including members of both parties - many of whom said it is time for the parties to put politics aside and pave the way for more economic development and jobs in the Garden State.
"One thing we lost in Trenton is togetherness," said Sen. Robert W. Singer (R-30/Monmouth and Ocean counties), an award recipient, "We need a strong business community to help us focus on the issues."
Singer noted, for example, that effective work by the business community to push for the replenishment of the state's Transportation Trust Fund will lead to critical investments in the state's transportation infrastructure.
"We recognize that businesses are our job creators and we need to ensure that our state is making it easier for businesses to succeed," said Sen. Nellie Pou (D-35/Passaic and Bergen counties), who also was honored. "I am committed and willing to do the work."
The four winners of the Legislative Awards are:
- Sen. Nellie Pou (D-35/Passaic and Bergen counties)
- Sen. Robert W. Singer (R-30/Monmouth and Ocean counties)
- Assemblyman Troy E. Singleton (D-7/Burlington County)
- Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-26/ Morris, Essex and Passaic counties)
The two winners of the State Chamber's Business Advocacy Awards are:
- James V. Fakult, President, Jersey Central Power & Light Company
- Richard S. Mroz, President, N.J. Board of Public Utilities
The award winners were presented crystal sculptures depicting a light bulb in honor of Thomas A. Edison, one of the Chamber's founding members, and in honor of the innovative spirit in New Jersey.
"I am thrilled to be among the class of honorees this year," Singleton said, "Without business, there is no labor. We want to be an added-value partner to the business community."
DeCroce said, "Advocating for taxpayers has always been a priority. I will continue to support policies that encourage job creation, provide tax relief, and reduce Trenton's bureaucracy."
The winners of the Business Advocate Awards also preached teamwork, as they were handed their crystal sculptures.
"I'm glad to accept this on behalf of the 1,500 employees at JCP&L," said Fakult. "I feel a little guilty (accepting an award) when it's a team doing the work. We are working hard and we are investing in the infrastructure. We learned much after Superstorm Sandy. I consider every day what a vital product and service we provide."
Mroz echoed those sentiments. "This award is as much a reflection of all the people at the BPU, as it is my work," he said. "When I came to the (BPU) a few years ago, I had a few goals. We needed to realize the importance of infrastructure as the backbone of the state and the business community, and I think we have accomplished that. I thank the Chamber for your advocacy, and helping us understand the issues."
Profiles of the Legislative Award Winners
Sen. Nellie Pou supported the replenishment of the Transportation Trust Fund which will lead to critical investments in the state's transportation infrastructure, and she backed the tax reform package which featured the elimination of the estate tax. In addition, she sponsored Bill S-1761, which directs the Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development to promote basic skills training. Pou has been a vital point of contact in the Senate Majority caucus for the N.J. Chamber of Commerce. She is a regular participant on the N.J. Chamber's annual Walk to Washington train trip, where she is open to discussing issues with Chamber members. In 1997, Pou became the first woman and first Hispanic to represent the 35th district.
Sen. Robert Singer has sponsored and co-sponsored several pro-business bills, including S-1286, which provides tax credits to companies that either invest in certain manufacturing equipment, expand their facilities, or hire new employees for manufacturing purposes. He was a staunch supporter of the replenishment of the Transportation Trust Fund which will lead to critical investments in the state's transportation infrastructure, and he backed the tax reform package that featured the elimination of the estate tax. Singer sponsored S-2212, which prohibits property taxpayers from filing property tax appeals with respect to the property of others.
Assemblyman Troy Singleton is an advocate for incentivizing capital investment and workforce training in New Jersey, and he has always provided the New Jersey Chamber with a seat at the table to discuss legislation. The State Chamber, for example, was able to negotiate amendments into several of his bills, such as A-3333 which allows business counselors to provide training to microenterprises (business with five or fewer employees). He sponsored A-322, which expands the scope of the New Jersey Regulatory Flexibility Act, easing the impact of rules on small businesses. He also sponsored A-4432 which boosts tax credits under the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program for certain businesses that collaborate with colleges or universities. Assemblyman Singleton was a prime sponsor of A-10, which replenished the Transportation Trust Fund and will lead to critical investments in the state's transportation infrastructure, and he supported the tax reform package that features the elimination of the estate tax.
Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce has sponsored and co-sponsored several pro-business bills, including A-2223 which establishes a Main Street Economic Growth Program to encourage business development in small, highly developed municipalities; and A-5014 which established the Red Tape Review Commission that is making it easier for businesses to operate in New Jersey. DeCroce supported the replenishment of the Transportation Trust Fund which will lead to critical investments in the state's transportation infrastructure, and she backed the tax reform package which featured the elimination of the estate tax. DeCroce is a regular participant on the Walk to Washington train trip, where she discusses important issues with N.J. Chamber members.
Profiles of the Business Advocate Award Winners
James Fakult is president of JCP&L, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. Fakult has been a key advisor to the New Jersey Chamber on vital infrastructure enhancement projects that provide safe and reliable electric service to business and residential customers. Fakult's leadership was instrumental in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, which led to hardening the utility system so it could better withstand the next event. JCP&L is investing $359 million on infrastructure projects and other work to enhance reliability across its 13-county Northern and Central New Jersey service area. JCP&L serves 1.1 million New Jersey customers in the counties of Burlington, Essex, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.
Richard S. Mroz has served as president of the state Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) since 2014. He also is the chairman of the Critical Infrastructure Committee for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, where he serves on the Subcommittee on Nuclear Issues-Waste Disposal. That Subcommittee deliberates on nuclear policy recommendations, nuclear waste disposal and emerging issues. Under Mroz's leadership, the BPU is furthering the state Energy Master Plan's priorities of improving energy resiliency and the emergency preparedness and response of utility companies. One such proposal involves the establishment of microgrids to improve the grid's resiliency and reliability in the event of a major emergency. Before becoming president of the BPU, he worked in private practice as a lawyer and lobbyist, serving as managing director of Archer Public Affairs in Trenton, and serving 'of counsel' to Archer & Greiner P.C., in Haddonfield.
Thank you to Bank of America for hosting the event.
For photos from the event, click on an image below: