The Meadowlands Regional Chamber (MRC) presented a Thought Leaders Conference in October, moderated by Emmy Award winning broadcaster and author Steve Adubato, to provide thought-provoking insight and dialogue from some of the region and New Jersey’s greatest leaders in business, finance, planning, healthcare, environmental policy and transportation.
The panels included “Bold Thinking for the Future,” “Obstacles and Solutions” and “Mobility, Workforce & Innovation.”
Featured speakers included Robert Garrett, president and CEO of Hackensack University Medical Center; Lori Grifa, partner at Archer and Greiner, P.C. and formerly the DCA Commissioner; and Jamie Fox, the former Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
The event was led by Fletch Creamer, Jr., who serves as the chairman of the Meadowlands Regional 2040 Foundation. This foundation has been established as the advocacy and public affairs arm of the MR—and as a “think tank” it focuses on the pressing regional development issues that will positively impact the local economy.
The purpose of this year’s conference—the kickoff installment for a series of events that will take place over the next several years—was to ignite and inspire a collaborative path to establishing a long term master plan for our region and for the state.
Garrett detailed plans for a private medical school at the former Hoffmann-La Roche site, which sits on the border of both Clifton and Nutley. Key to that plan is a collaborative partnership between Seton Hall University and Hackensack University Health Network—the parent company of Hackensack University Medical Center.
Garrett asserted that establishing a school of medicine—which would be the only private medical school in the state—will attract the best and the brightest to the field of medicine in New Jersey and will also help curb a critical physician shortage that the state and the nation currently face. By 2020, New Jersey is poised to have a shortage of 2,500 physicians and this joint venture partnership will help combat this deficit by providing key education, research and career opportunities to motivate the next generation to pursue a career in medicine.
“We are excited to be taking this next step with Seton Hall University. Our academic reputations, combined with our clinical expertise, will guarantee the establishment of a world-class academic institution in the Garden State,” said Robert C. Garrett, president and CEO of HackensackUHN. “New Jersey has long been known as a home to the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, and it is imperative we continue to support our future workforce through a premier school of medicine.”
On a similar note Chris Paladino, who serves as CEO of the New Brunswick Development Corp., reviewed the positive effect of Rutgers medical school merger and the beneficial impact it is having on the local economy. He also discussed how millennials prefer to live in urban environments and this demand needs to be addressed in regional planning for both the private and public sectors.
Michele Brown, CEO of Choose New Jersey and formerly from the state’s Economic Development Authority, said that New Jersey suffers from a perception that it is not business friendly—due to high tax burden and lack of funding. New Jersey’s position as a bio and pharma leader, she added, is threatened by placed like Cambridge, Massachusetts. Even though New Jersey’s geographic location is stronger.
The panelists also discussed building a tourism economy and that attractions like MetLife Stadium, the Meadowlands Racetrack and American Dream Meadowlands could serve as engines to powering this industry.
The Meadowlands Regional Chamber will present an Education Summit in 2016 and it will expand upon many of the workforce development issues that the Thought Leaders Conference raised. Stay tuned for more information.