Art education company continues growth

Englewood-based art education company One River School announced it has signed a franchise partnership that will see multiple schools come to Long Island.

The first of franchisee Matt Boskin’s new One River schools will debut in Port Jefferson, New York, in January 2020, representing the second location in the region. Boskin’s second location should follow in March, One River said.

“I am excited to bring this unique, fun and educational experience to the Port Jefferson area,” Boskin said in a prepared statement. “One River teaches art in such an innovative way that students of all ages get to express their creativity. (Founder and CEO) Matt Ross has built a great platform that has proven to be successful for the community and franchisees.”

One River now has 12 locations in six states, and has further expansion plans, it said.

“I am thrilled to be opening more locations on Long Island,” Ross said in a statement. “Our first school in Woodbury was an instant success, and we continue to see tremendous interest there, which tells me that adults and kids throughout Long Island will respond to our differentiated approach to art education.”

The price is wrong for millennials looking for place to live, experts lament

The largest issue facing millennial would-be homebuyers is the ability to afford property in New Jersey, according to panelists at “Affordable Housing for Millennials,” a breakout session at the recent 2019 Governor’s Conference on Housing and Economic Development in Atlantic City.

“Baby boomers ripped a 10-year hole in the economy, when many millennials were graduating high school with (fewer) future opportunities,” Joe Getz, founding principal of real estate consulting firm JGSC Group, said. “Now, millennials, the largest generation in history, also have lower income levels than Generation X and baby boomers, plus, on average, they are carrying nearly $32,0000 in student loan debt.

“Therefore, to attract homebuyers, we must actively create downtowns with opportunities to host and recruit good jobs at places we know people want. There are so few communities doing that in New Jersey compared to other states.”

“In the last year, we’ve only seen 1 to 2% wage growth, which is way behind the national average,” Jarrod C. Grasso, CEO of New Jersey Realtors, the leading professional and advocacy organization for the state’s real estate industry, added. “Plus, the average property tax bill in New Jersey is almost $9,000.

“What my Realtors are finding is that, even if a person can somehow afford a $350,000 home, they may not be able to afford the property taxes that go along with it, and that kills the deal.”

Edward G. Martoglio, co-founder and principal of RPM Development Group, a diversified real estate development, construction and management firm in Montclair, said he has seen New Jersey residents struggle to afford rentals, too.

“On average, with affordable housing, a three-bedroom apartment still costs about $1,000 per month — and, unfortunately, throughout New Jersey, there are still lots of families making less than $36,000 annually,” he said. “That’s why, like most affordable rental housing operators in New Jersey, our vacancy rate hovers around 1.5%.”

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of consumer watchdog New Jersey Citizen Action, said it often can still be challenging for those with limited or bad credit to find housing, too.

“It’s been more difficult for millennials to get credit since the 2008 financial crisis, so they have to be more creative about how they receive financing when they go to purchase homes,” she said. “For example, working with New Jersey Citizen Action, lenders and banks have developed alternative credit models when giving loans to first-time homebuyers. They might look at a cell phone or utility bill or credit card or car payments instead.

“It’s therefore incumbent upon management companies and landlords of rental properties to look to do the same.”

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Conference panel details how housing sector is grappling with attracting millennials

Affordable first-time homeownership, the rise in rental properties and the necessity for towns and developers to work together to create attractive, transit-oriented communities in New Jersey dominated the conversation regarding “Affordable Housing for Millennials,” a breakout session at the recent 2019 Governor’s Conference on Housing and Economic Development in Atlantic City.

“Homeownership by millennials has significantly dropped over several years, mostly because of the high student loan debt that potential first-time homebuyers are carrying,” Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action, said.

The state’s largest multi-issue consumer watchdog organization works with more than 100 affiliated organizations on various issues, including first-time homebuyer counseling and foreclosures, as well as legislation regarding housing issues.

But Jarrod C. Grasso, CEO of New Jersey Realtors, said all is not lost — yet.

“National statistics show millennials represent 37% of (potential) homebuyers, with the bulk being first-time owners,” he said. New Jersey Realtors, the leading professional and advocacy organization for the state’s real estate industry, promotes housing, represents private property rights and advocates on behalf of builders.

Joe Getz, founding principal of JGSC Group, said every community is different, but in a survey of Roselle in Union County, just 58% of millennials were interested in looking for housing in the near-term, with nearly 60% looking for one- to three-bedroom apartments or condos versus single-family homes.

“As community outreach and economic development consultants in Merchantville, we primarily work with municipalities today to help them to revitalize their communities,” he said.

That often can be a challenge, with the rise in rental opportunities often drastically and quickly changing neighborhoods.

“More apartment housing is being built, because it’s quicker and more affordable for millennials to get into and seniors also are looking to trade out of homeownership for less maintenance,” Grasso added. “A lot of single-family homes have even been bought up and converted into or knocked down for multifamily units.”

“Two-thirds or more of housing being built now is rental housing,” Edward G. Martoglio, co-founder and principal of RPM Development Group, a diversified real estate development, construction and management firm in Montclair, said.

“Our research shows that, whereas older millennials are more interested in buying condominiums and homes, younger millennials are more interested in renting,” S. Airaj Hasan, CEO of Blackstone 360, said.

A construction and real estate investment firm in Newark, Blackstone 360 typically builds adaptive reuse projects close to transit — and its properties are filled to the brim with amenities, Hasan said.

“Outdoor spaces, gyms, libraries, office and workspaces, you name it,” he said. “It’s about convenience.”

Amenities have widely been known to attract millennial renters and buyers to various real estate properties, but when it comes down to it, location, location, location is still the motto, Salowe-Kaye said.

“Millennials look to live in communities with not only good schools, but also 18-hour neighborhoods, where they can come from work and still be able to get done what they need,” she said.

Urban mayors need to lead this charge, he added.

“We can’t allow economic development in New Jersey to rest on the backs of a few developers and builders,” Getz said. “I’ve always been surprised how New Jersey lags behind the nation in this.”

New Jersey also has failed its residents when it comes to transit, Grasso said.

“While older millennials nearing their 40s are looking for housing in good school districts, younger millennials in their 20s are still looking for affordable housing near transit,” he said. “And the reason why certain areas of the state have boomed, like Hoboken and Jersey City, is because of their mass transit availability.”

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CIT moving Livingston operations to Morristown, leasing 200K sq.ft. of office space

Financial services company CIT Group Inc. has leased 200,000 square feet of space in Morristown, with plans to relocate its Livingston operations to the site in 2020.

The New York-based parent of CIT Bank told ROI-NJ in a statement that it has signed a 15-year lease at 340 Mount Kemble Ave.

“CIT will relocate its corporate center in Livingston to nearby Morristown in 2020,” the company said. “CIT is pleased to work with the state of New Jersey on this opportunity and is looking forward to continuing to be part of a strong local community. … The new facility will support the company’s continuing operations and provide a modern workspace that best meets the needs of its employees. The move is expected to take place at the end of 2020.”

Real estate services firm JLL said the lease represents roughly half the space at 400,000-square-foot, Class A office building owned by Onyx Equities LLC and PCCP LLC.

The firm’s Timothy Greiner, executive managing director, and Blake Goodman, executive vice president, represented ownership in the transaction. They worked with Onyx’s DJ Venn, senior vice president of asset management, and Adam Karafiol, senior vice president of leasing.

“The lease of this space continues a trend JLL has seen throughout New Jersey,” the firm said. “Companies are relocating to upgraded, renovated assets near transit hubs to align their workplaces with their corporate culture and brand to ultimately attract the best talent in their industry.”

The building is undergoing a multimillion-dollar capital upgrade, including work on the atrium lobby and glass façade, according to JLL.

Another 200,000 square feet remains available at the property, JLL noted.

Ramapo president to depart in 2021, college says

Ramapo College of New Jersey President Peter P. Mercer is leaving the school at the end of his current contract, in June 2021, the Mahwah-based institution has announced.

When he departs, Mercer will have led the school for 16 years, having overseen accomplishments including a transformative building and renovation program — featuring the opening of the Anisfield School of Business and its trading lab, as well as other facilities — as well as new graduate programs, safety initiatives and more.

“Dr. Mercer is a tremendous asset to public higher education in New Jersey,” William F. Dator, chair of the board of trustees, said in a prepared statement. “Ramapo College students and alumni have benefited from his steadfast vision and his unwavering dedication to the mission of the college. The board of trustees is confident that the college will continue to thrive under his leadership for the next two years.”

Ramapo has seen applications rise from 4,430 in 2006 to 7,329 in 2019, the college noted. The next two years of Mercer’s time on campus will include the school’s 50th anniversary celebration and the culmination of its “Fulfilling Our Promise: 2018-2021” strategic plan.

Preparation for a national search has begun, with Susan A. Vallario, vice chair of the board, named chair of the Presidential Search Committee.

HBSE promotes Weber, names new president for Devils

Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment has named a new president for the New Jersey Devils, promoting Hugh Weber from president of the team and the Prudential Center to president of HBSE.

Jason Reynolds, who had been chief revenue officer for HBSE, will become president of the hockey team, effective immediately. He will be based in Newark and work alongside the team’s executive vice president and general manager, Ray Shero.

Weber, who has been president of the team and arena since the organization acquired them in August 2013, will help elevate the 2-year-old parent organization. Reynolds and Philadelphia 76ers President Chris Heck will now both report to him.

“Given the continued expansion of our organization, this was an opportune time to lift two incredible and deserving executives into bigger and wider roles,” HBSE CEO Scott O’Neil said in a prepared statement. “Both Jake and Hugh are tremendous leaders possessing a wide array of experience and expertise across the sports and entertainment ecosystem.

“This plan empowers a world-class executive in Hugh Weber to focus on the continued exponential growth of our core business, while Jake Reynolds brings his signature expertise in culture-building and laser focus on innovation to drive our business forward with the greatest upside.”

N.J. gets $900K in federal funds for NJSTEP export program

Small business exporting in the state is looking to expand, and it’s getting federal funding to do so.

The New Jersey Office of Export Promotion was awarded $900,000 in federal funding Thursday from the U.S. Small Business Administration through the State Trade Expansion Program.

The program supports small business owners looking to export goods and the $900,000 award, announced by New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way, is the largest in the program’s history.

The NJSTEP program has been awarding funding for seven years now and, according to the program, has assisted hundreds of businesses and lead to millions of dollars in export sales.

“New Jersey’s diverse small business community is the foundation of the Garden State’s economy,” Way said. “The SBA award will help those small businesses reach markets around the world and, in turn, contribute to their growth in communities across the state.”

To help offset costs related to participation in foreign trade missions, international trade shows and exhibitions, website and collateral translations, and services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service, all NJSTEP program funds will be awarded to eligible small businesses.

“The SBA award will help the state’s small businesses take part in trade shows and other events that may have been cost prohibitive,” New Jersey Business Action Center Executive Director Melanie Willoughby said.

Grants are awarded to eligible companies on a first-come, first-serve competitive basis over a two-year period beginning Sept. 30 and running through Sept. 29, 2021.

NJSTEP is administered by the New Jersey Business Action Center’s Office of Export Promotion, both housed within the New Jersey Department of State. To apply for the NJSTEP program, visit the organization’s website:

Medical device maker BrainsWay shifting focus to U.S.

BrainsWay Ltd., an Israeli biotechnology company with its U.S. office in Hackensack, is making a change at the top, as its Israeli CEO has resigned the board has announced its intent to hire a U.S.-based replacement.

Yaacov Michlin has left the company to pursue other opportunities, while Chief Financial Officer Hadar Levy has moved to the U.S. offices, where he is adding the chief operating officer title to his CFO job.

BrainsWay co-founder and Chairman David Zacut will serve as interim CEO.

“I am extremely pleased with the strong revenue growth, driven by significant market demand for our deep transcranial magnetic stimulation system that BrainsWay’s business continues to demonstrate,” Zacut said in a prepared statement. “In addition, our clinical pipeline for the potential treatment of additional psychiatric and neurological disorders continues to advance, enhancing our long-term objectives.

“As our current sales and expected future revenue stream are primarily driven by the U.S., we believe the time is now right to recruit a U.S.-based CEO. We are confident that our business is well-positioned for continued growth.”

The medical device company is known for its deep TMS technology, which can be used to treat major depressive disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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Why trip to India could be worth up to 1,500 jobs now — and plenty more later

Connections are one thing. Jobs are something else.

Choose New Jersey CEO Jose Lozano said the state is getting both during the seven-day, six-city tour of India that his organization set up for Gov. Phil Murphy and a group of approximately two dozen government and elected officials, prominent business leaders and key players in higher education.

Lozano said the trip could bring as many as 1,500 direct jobs — a conservative estimate, he said on Day 5 of the trip.

“We’ve spent a lot of time selling New Jersey and this week it’s clearly paying off,” he told ROI-NJ.

Three companies based in India with a strong presence in New Jersey have indicated on the trip that they are bringing more jobs overseas, according to Lozano:

  • Tata Consultancy Services in Metro Park has said it will add at least 700 people to a New Jersey workforce that already totals nearly 4,000;
  • Larsen & Toubro in Edison has said it will add 400 jobs to its workforce of 600;
  • Birlasoft in Edison with all add more than 150 jobs.

Lozano, whose team has been setting up the trip for nearly a year, said he’s thrilled its hard work is paying off.

He credits, however, the attributes of the state.

“Companies are making critical investments in their workforce because it makes great business sense,” he said. “The administration feels the talent, location and quality of life are second to none.

“It’s nice to see those companies who have committed more workers affirm what we believe to be true.”

Lozano said the job numbers are conservative because he expects so much more to come from other agreements — including two with universities on both ends of the state.

Rowan University and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Research Development Corp. of India.

Rowan and the EDA both feel the agreement will lead to the NRDC — the largest and oldest technology transfer organization in India — setting up its first U.S. office in Glassboro on the Rowan campus.

And VentureLink, the newly renamed business incubator at New Jersey Institute of Technology, has signed MOUs with NASSCOM, the National Association of Software and Services Cos., and T-Hub that are expected to bring up to a dozen entrepreneurial companies to campus.

Murphy said the partnership is another step in building the innovative economy he envisions for the state.

“We are building nothing less than a new innovation ecosystem,” he said in a statement. “We are making the right investments for an economy rooted in innovation — taking our history as the place where the modern world was invented and building upon that to be the place where tomorrow’s world will come to life.”

Lozano said more is coming.

“We hoped this trip would create and even greater connection between India and New Jersey and it has,” he said. “More importantly, more are coming. This is just the beginning.”

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Rowan, EDA hope MOU will bring India’s largest technology transfer organization to Glassboro

Rowan University and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Research Development Corp. of India this week in New Delhi.

Rowan and state officials hailed the signing, which they feel will lead to the NRDC — the largest and oldest technology transfer organization in India — setting up its first U.S. office in Glassboro on the Rowan campus.

The agreement is just one coming out of the seven-day, six-city economic development mission set up by Choose New Jersey for Gov. Phil Murphy and dozens of other state, business and higher education officials.

Beena Sukumaran, vice president for research at Rowan, said bringing NRDC to Rowan would be good for the school, the South Jersey region and all of the state.

“This will be good for everyone,” she told ROI-NJ recently, before she left for the trip.

The NRDC, Sukumaran said, is a part of the Department of Science and technology in India. It is tasked with helping, supporting and promoting all the intellectual property and technologies from any publicly funded research in India.

“It has more than 5,000 technologies — and they believe half of them are pretty innovative,” she said.

Sukumaran said the MOU is a three-party agreement.

“Each of us has a role to play,” she said. “Rowan will provide an office for NRDC in New Jersey. We will help them with capacity building through innovation entrepreneurship and commercialization training. We will help them develop an online searchable database.”

The EDA, she said, will help any companies that wish to come to the U.S. find a place to settle, including the South Jersey Technology Park that sits on the outskirts of the Rowan campus.

“But it could be anywhere in the state,” Sukumaran said.

The agreement is a year in the making. It started, she said, when Murphy issued a memo encouraging research universities to create a global footprint in New Jersey.

Shortly thereafter, at the urging of Rowan President Ali Houshmand, the school met with Choose New Jersey and NJEDA officials, and then reached out to the NRDA.

“Dr. Houshmand said, ‘Whatever we can do to help the state, we will do it,’” Sukumaran said. “That’s how the conversation started.”

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