Business Summit

 business summit 2023



Thank you for joining the Middlesex County’s Premier Business and Networking Event!

Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners, and our thriving business community convened on Tuesday, September 26, 2023 for the Annual Middlesex County Business Summit at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center.

The theme, “The Future Belongs to Those Who Build It,” expanded upon the County's deep legacy as a cutting-edge Life Sciences hub. The audience heard from an influential lineup of speakers who are enhancing the lives of residents and our business communities in this sector. 

Keynote discussions included Stephanie Ruhle, the host of MSNBC’s The 11th Hour and Senior Business Analyst for NBC News; and New Jersey's 56th Governor, Phil Murphy. 

Key Event Takeaways and Highlights

Keynote Panel Discussion

"The Future Belongs to Those that Build it"

In a wide-ranging discussion about the rapidly transforming Life Science sector, the panelists shared their thoughts on the role of research and collaboration between academia and life science companies, how work has changed since the pandemic, and the importance of developing the next generation of Life Science employees from a young age and through the college years. 

“We throw the term transformational around a lot, but I think this truly is transformational for Middlesex County and New Jersey. This will be a 96-bed in-patient cancer hospital (referring to Jack and Sheryl Morris Cancer Center). People will no longer have to travel out of state for this care. It will be available right here in the heart of New Brunswick.” ― Dr. Steven K. Libutti, MD, FACS

Keynote: Stephanie Ruhle, Host of MSNBC’s The 11th Hour and Senior Business Analyst for NBC News

In this sit-down conversation, Stephanie Ruhle, host of MSNBC’s The 11th Hour and senior business analyst for NBC News, shared her thoughts on various aspects of the nation’s economy and why it’s more complicated than many want to admit, the importance of investing in education, and why maintaining a sense of community in an AI-world matters.

“Workforce development is the most important thing. If you care about social change, economic development, helping people rise up from bottom… that starts with access to a great education.” ― Stephanie Ruhle, Host of MSNBC'S The 11th Hour and Senior Business Analyst for NBC News

Keynote: A Conversation with New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy

In this one-on-one conversation, Governor Murphy shared his thoughts on New Jersey’s economy, the importance of small businesses, the state’s diverse population, and why “tough love” is often the right option in fiscal decisions, as well as Middlesex County’s position as a role model for the rest of the state, pointing to the County’s AAA credit rating and well-respected educational institutions like Middlesex College and Rutgers New Brunswick ― as well as the County’s position as a hub for life science research and development.

“From the small businesses lining its main streets to the companies and academic institutions anchoring its communities, Middlesex County continues to serve as a formidable economic engine. Indeed, few counties better epitomize New Jersey’s nation-leading talent and location, a combination displayed most distinctly by Middlelsex County’s life sciences and innovation ecosystems. Through forward-looking investments in public transportation, transit-oriented development, and the industries of tomorrow, we will continue to maximize the potential of these burgeoning sectors.” – New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy

Breakout Sessions

Blueprints for Business Success in Middlesex County

This session provided guidance on how to build the foundation of your business by connecting the selling proposition and the story of the business to identify the company's mission. The panelists emphasized the importance of investing in the team members of a company, as their essential contributions to the day-to-day operations have a direct effect on the company's future development and failures are a necessary part of business growth.

"Choosing the right people to be on your company’s team is essential to the success of the business. Establish an alliance with those who have strengths in the areas that you may not. Build a foundation of strong team members and continue to grow the company from there.” -Vetchay Vilvert, Founder of Naturalvert

Unlocking Capital for Community Growth

Specifically geared toward those working in the public sector, this session offered an overview of state and County financing tools. James Polos of the Middlesex County Improvement Authority (MCIA) and the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank’s (I-Bank) John Notte and Melinda Roslon shared insights into avenues for municipalities to fuel development and redevelopment ventures.

"Working with the MCIA allows municipalities to take advantage of the County’s AAA bond rating as well as bundle together admin costs of bonding. As an Improvement Authority, we can become a financing agent for municipalities so they can lease a police car or equipment, for example, rather than buying it. By coming to us, it’s one-stop shopping.”– H. James Polos, Executive Director of the Middlesex County Improvement Authority

Strategies for Inclusive Business Growth

This panel explored the strategies to propel Minority or Women-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) firms forward. The audience heard transformative practices that both governmental bodies and larger corporate entities can adopt to boost MWBE participation and success.

“Middlesex County is a shining star. 20% of their contracts will go to MWB’s (Minority and women-owned businesses).” – Jeff Cantor, Founder and CEO of the New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce