Rutgers Business School's role as anchor institution in Newark is defined at roundtable event

Monday, August 31, 2015

A panel discussion on how Rutgers Business School can collaborate with private businesses and the community to enhance economic development in Newark covered a range of issues, from improving the perception of the city to providing jobs for local residents at the port.

Rutgers hosted the second annual public-private-community roundtable on Aug. 28 as a way of continuing its effort to develop partnerships capable of having a socio-economic impact in the Newark community.

Kevin Lyons, who teaches supply chain management and served as master of ceremonies, said the event was intended to be part of "an ongoing dialogue."’

Moderated by NJTV’s chief political correspondent Michael Aron, the discussion offered the perspectives of Jerome Williams, executive vice chancellor and provost of Rutgers University-Newark; executives Ralph LaRossa, PSE&G’s president and chief operating officer and Bill Fiacco, Schindler Elevator’s senior vice president of new installation sales and marketing; and Tom Bracken, president and CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

A view of the round table participants.

It was panelist Roland Anglin, director of the Cornwall Center at Rutgers University-Newark, who identified a central issue for Newark: Just 13 percent of city residents, he said, have a degree from an institution of higher education. "That’s not really enough for a modern economy to thrive," Anglin said. "It’s just not in the ballpark.”

Anglin’s point goes to the heart of the strategic plan for Rutgers University-Newark that calls for the university, including Rutgers Business School, to take on the role of an anchor institution and have an active part in the city’s economic development.

An initiative started by Rutgers University-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor seeks to raise the rate of post-secondary attainment to 25 percent by 2025. "It’s ambitious,” Anglin said as he described the goal, “but it’s crucial for the economic development.”

In her remarks, Dean Lei Lei highlighted seven strategic initiatives for Rutgers Business School, including the creation of a research park at 494 Broad Street where business knowledge generated through academic research will be applied to Newark-based businesses and entrepreneurs to help fuel economic development.

"We will use the research park to show the relevence of our research and to effect economic development in Newark," Lei said.

Rutgers Business School recognized the Newark high school students who participated in the Supply Chain Education Partnership Program, which was grew out of last year's inaugural round table.

The panelists at the roundtable also spoke about the need for scholarships, job training and better communications to inform the public about Newark’s assets and prospects. "This city has a lot to offer,” said Ralph LaRossa, PSE&G’s president and chief operating officer.

"A city with an international airport, a major seaport, a top financial institution, a top utility company, a No. 1 performing arts center,” he said. "Ask yourself whether you would celebrate that.”

"I don’t think we’re spinning it positively enough,” he said.

One of the city’s best hopes for economic development may rest with the expansion of Port Newark, according to Jerry Von Dohlen of Port Newark Refrigeration Warehouse. Von Dohlen, who was attending the event, raised the point when Aron started fielding comments and questions from the audience.

Otis Rolley, president and chief executive officer of Newark Community Economic Development Corporation, quickly made his own point about the possibility of private-public partnerships forming around training and employment opportunities for Newark residents at the port.”  

"As new opportunities present themselves, what can we be doing to connect the dots in a way we haven’t in the past," he said.

The roundtable event opened with remarks from both Rolley and Newark Deputy Mayor Baye Adofo-Wilson. Rolley set the tone by talking about the experience he had building public-private-community partnerships in Baltimore.

Otis Rolley, president and chief executive officer of Newark Community Economic Development Corporation.

"Newark has a lot going on,” Rolley said. "As partners, we can ensure there is success for all of us."

Adofo-Wilson spoke about working to preserve the momentum of economic development in the city when the change of leadership occurred at City Hall last year. “We wanted to build on the things that made Newark,” he said.

He also spoke about small manufacturers coming from New York City and looking to locate in Newark, which has an existing hub of manufacturing, and he described a vision for Newark as a thriving community of businesses and neighborhoods.

"We want to build a city where people at all stages of life feel safe and have fun,” he said. "That’s the direction we can move in as partners.”

-Susan Todd

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TAGS: Lei Lei Social Impact Supply Chain Management