Did you know … Bankers and accountants do more than handle money — especially when it comes to economic development

By Brett Johnson
New Jersey | Aug 23, 2019 at 1:57 pm
Focus On ...

Bankers and accountants. Everybody has them. But everybody may not be using them to their full ability.

These days, these service providers provide much more than just basic services. Bankers and accountants, in fact, frequently serve as economic development advisers.

We asked a few to explain what they do. Here’s what they said:

Tom Comiskey,
New Jersey regional president at M&T Bank:

“M&T Bank is committed to its communities throughout New Jersey and beyond. One such area is Paterson, where we invested in revitalizing the city by opening a branch in April of 2018. Through our presence, we have provided support to underbanked residents and businesses large and small as the region’s bank of choice. Additionally, in our longstanding partnership with the New Jersey Community Development Corp., we have invested over $600,000 to transform the former American Legion Hall into Paterson’s newly renovated Great Falls Youth Center. The safe space offers after-school and weekend programming including computer coding, sound engineering and culinary arts to hundreds of the neighborhood’s teens each year.”

Diane Gitto,
partner in the Linwood and Marlton offices at Friedman LLP:

“Friedman LLP had the opportunity to assist one of our clients in bringing over 80 jobs to Vineland. The plan centered on consolidating one of our client’s business units, for which services were currently being performed across the U.S., into one of three locations. One of the location options included an underutilized facility they owned in Vineland, while the others sat outside of New Jersey. We presented a tax incentive credit idea as well as incentives offered through the Center for Workforce Development that helped lower the cost of the relocation and new job creation. Friedman worked with various agencies to help our client obtain the incentives and, in comparison to the other location options, Vineland provided the best financial outcome. It was a win for our client and a win for Cumberland County.”

Todd Gomez,
market executive in the community development banking group at Bank of America:

“Bank of America believes that economic development is an outcome of building communities comprehensively. In 2016, the bank committed $27 million in loans and investments to finance 64 units of affordable and supportive housing in Jersey City’s Ward F. When the project completed lease-up in 2019, we provided Better Money Habits workshops as a means of increasing the viability and stability of not only the new residents, but of the community overall. We are committed to utilizing Bank of America’s broad resources to create healthy communities across our platform.”

Carleen Lombardi,
vice president of corporate giving and community relations at ConnectOne Bank:

“ConnectOne Bank’s Affinity Program helps New Jersey nonprofits generate the revenue they need to successfully carry out their mission. One particular success story from the program is in West Windsor, where ConnectOne Bank has helped 17-year-old Thomas Colitsas fund his Education for Success nonprofit. Colitsas and Education for Success provide tutoring services for grade school students in underprivileged communities for no cost. Education for Success strives to foster friendships between the elementary school students and their high school volunteers throughout the tutoring sessions. ConnectOne Bank is extremely proud of the substantial impact Education for Success has had in New Jersey communities.”

Bernadette Mueller,
executive vice president of corporate social responsibility at Valley National Bank:

“Rising Tide Capital is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to assist struggling individuals and communities to build strong businesses by providing comprehensive business development services. Valley Bank provides financial and technical assistance investments to support the Rising Tide educational and technical training programs for aspiring entrepreneurs. In 2019, Valley helped fund small business grants awarded to winners of Rising Tide’s RISE50 competition. In addition, employees from the bank’s Community Lending volunteered as competition judges at 3rd Space, a coworking space in Newark, selecting the Sector Champions and the winners of the $5,000 small business grants. We helped identify the five entrepreneurs who competed in the Finale pitch for an additional $10,000 in early August. Over 100 entrepreneurs participated in the competition.”

George Tobjy,
a managing director in KPMG’s tax practice:

“KPMG’s Global Location and Expansion Services practice regularly supports companies in evaluating the location benefits and cost opportunities of establishing new business operations in communities across the U.S. An example of a project in New Jersey was our support for a major pharmaceutical company in analyzing the benefits of locating their global R&D center in central New Jersey over other company sites under consideration in France and Missouri. Their decision to locate it here resulted in over 800 jobs. We also recently assisted a global industrial manufacturing company in evaluating technology developments and technology labor availability, along with real estate availability and costs in eight U.S. cities. Following the analysis, the company decided to establish a 250-employee innovation center in downtown Brooklyn.