Partnership preserves 244 acres in Lebanon Twp.

NAI James E. Hanson has arranged the sale of 244 acres of land in Lebanon Township that will be preserved from development as part of a greenway in Hunterdon County, the real estate firm said Tuesday.

The property along Mt. Lebanon Road was sold by Earl Pelio of Pelio Farms to a group that includes the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the New Jersey Green Acres Program, Lebanon Township, Hunterdon Land Trust, the Nature Conservancy, Victoria Foundation, 1772 Foundation, Leavens Foundation and the New Jersey Water Supply Authority. The buyers created a public-private partnership to acquire the land.

NAI Hanson’s John J. Schilp and Sigmund Schorr represented the buyers in the deal.

“When dealing with property of this size and a public-private partnership of this complexity, it is crucial for a commercial real estate brokerage to deliver superior customer service to ensure that a fair and mutually beneficial deal can be negotiated on behalf of both the buyer and seller,” Schilp said in a prepared statement. “As real estate development continues to move north and west in the state, we continue to see preservation groups show interest in acquiring and protecting high-quality land like this from development.

“We were honored to work with the buyers and seller in this transaction to guarantee that this land can be enjoyed by the public for many years to come.”

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How health tech company is helping physician practices maximize Medicare reimbursements

It’s the worst time to sell your independent physician practice.

That’s what Faris Ghawi is telling doctors in northern New Jersey, while helping them boost their Medicare reimbursements by, on average, $300,000.

Ghawi is co-founder and CEO of Vytalize, a Hoboken-based technology-enabled management services organization focused on improving Medicare patient management for primary care provider.

The company, which originally began with four friends creating an urgent care concierge service in New York City in 2014, evolved by 2016 into a home-based health care monitoring startup in Hoboken.

At the time, they raised $2.5 million in funding, and eyed the ever-growing Medicare-eligible population in the country. The company used tablets to help monitor patients, while also offering families greater opportunities to keep track of the care of their loved ones.

Two years later, the company has raised $4.5 million and found a new sector of the health care industry to enter.

Ghawi said the company is also helping empower independent physicians with the goal of maximizing reimbursements from Medicare — by maximizing patient care that aligns with Medicare goals to keep people out of hospitals.

“Doctors don’t know what they are missing out on,” he said. “We took what we have and started offering it to primary care providers, in northern New Jersey, for the most part.”

The company focused on five different fee-for-service reimbursements that Medicare has added since 2011. That includes reimbursements for annual wellness visits, Medicare Shared Savings Accountable Care Organizations, chronic care management, integrated behavioral health and, in 2019, telemedicine for some ACOs.

Despite the increased revenue potential, there was a slow adoption of the necessary services at independent practices — due to lack of resources — and at health systems, because there were no major incentives tied to each, with the exception of shared savings at ACOs.

For example, in the case of a practice in Rockland, New York, Vytalize helped the practice increase its revenue by $200,000 based on 120 patients by focusing on patient care that included some of the new regulations, as well as participating in an ACO.

Vytalize is currently working with four practices in New Jersey, with more than 10 in the pipeline, Ghawi said.

Participants include these doctors and nurse practitioners:

  • Dr. Amer Alnajar;
  • Dr. Samir Khalil;
  • Dr. Gregory Sullivan;
  • Ann Rhodes;
  • Cheryl Gauff;
  • Olivia Bouqet.

By maximizing reimbursements with more practices, Vytalize also increases its own revenues. The company is equally splitting the savings realized by the practice.

And thought it relies on fee-for-service reimbursements, which the health care industry overall has been trying to phase out for the past few years, Ghawi said it is a sustainable revenue source until value-based care is the norm.

Besides, the services that Medicare added reimbursements for are helping to lower the overall cost of health care — which is why Medicare is investing in them, Ghawi said.

“That’s why we think fee-for-service is nice to ride until value-based care is everywhere,” he said. “A company like (ours) can sustain and finance itself until shared savings are realized.”

The ultimate goal is to keep physicians from feeling pressured about selling their practice, as mergers and acquisitions continue around the country, Ghawi said.

“The message from what we learned over the past year is there is so much for primary care doctors to be doing without having to compromise their current operations or their work-life balance,” he said.

Orange artist lofts are part of $3.75M portfolio sale

Two multifamily properties in Orange have sold for a combined $3.75 million, according to the Kislak Co. Inc.

490 Tremont Ave., Orange.

The real estate firm said Tuesday that 490 Tremont Ave., which has 26 units, and 580 Forest St., with seven live/work artist lofts, were sold by an undisclosed owner to an undisclosed repeat client.

Joni Sweetwood, a Kislak senior vice president, represented the seller, while Julie Gralla, a sales associate, represented the buyer. Woodbridge-based Kislak marketed the Forest Street property on an exclusive basis.

“Orange is an extremely attractive market for both landlords and tenants,” Sweetwood said in a prepared statement. “For landlords, the demand for apartments and the ability to raise rents annually by as much as 5 percent on existing tenants and go to ‘market rate’ on turnovers makes Orange a tremendous market in which to invest. Tenants love the conveniences of Orange, including its quick and easy direct train service to New York City.”

The Tremont Avenue property is a three-and-a-half story brick building, while the Forest Avenue property is a converted brick firehouse.

Attorney Jonathan Mehl represented the buyer, with Oritani Bank providing financing.

Why steel tariffs are hurting N.J. company that wants to manufacture in N.J.

Gary DuBoff, CEO of Saddle Brook-based manufacturer Arrow Fastener, loves to tell his “How President Donald Trump’s tariffs hurt me instead of helped me” story for one simple reason:

To see which part of the story most stuns the listener:

  1. The fact that his initial application to get an exclusion from the tariff was rejected because it had “the wrong code”;
  2. The fact that the steel he needs to produce staples for his best-selling staple guns is not available from any country other than China (a fact U.S. Steel and Nucor agree with);
  3. The fact that he could buy the staples that he wants to manufacture here at a higher cost to him from the same steel vendors in China and not pay the 25 percent tariff.

“You tell me: What’s the dumbest thing about this?” he said. “Everybody I tell the story to, says, ‘Well, that makes no sense.’”

DuBoff has reached out to his elected officials — he spoke highly of the efforts of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) — but said it’s been of little help.

“All we really get from Washington is, ‘We’re overburdened and we’re really not staffed up for this and we’re working as fast as we can,’” he said.

It would be nice to put this off as another example of government bureaucracy gone wrong — but it has very real economic consequences for DuBoff.

DuBoff estimates he is losing $125,000 a month in revenue because of the tariffs — a loss he has been taking since they were announced in April. And it potentially could cost jobs at the manufacturing plant he recently invested $3 million in because he wants to — wait for it — help build a manufacturing base in the U.S. and New Jersey.

“We’re doing everything we can to try and avoid losing jobs,” he said. “We are looking at some other options, other countries other than China, which we might be able to work with.”

He doesn’t want it to come to that. And he hopes a sensible solution will prevail.

“We believe intellectually this can’t go on forever, right? But both sides seem to be really digging, so we don’t know,” he said.

DuBoff said he will not make any decision until the end of the year, something he said he has done to alleviate any immediate concerns of his more than 250 employees, employees with an average service time of 17 years at a company that has been in the U.S. since 1929 and in New Jersey since 1966.

“I don’t want to lose people who think we’re going to move this operation somewhere else because of the tariff situation,” he said. “We’re going to just bide our time.

“We’re not going to make any changes this year and hope that, in the meantime, between now and the of the year, this goes away.”

Arrow Fastener has resubmitted its exemption requests. The application has been posted and now there is a 30-day window when companies can comment on the request.

It’s the greatest economic development opportunity for steel manufacturers in the U.S., as it gives them a chance to pick up business. So far, (and the latest comment period closes Aug. 26) no companies have jumped in to say they can supply the product Arrow Fastener needs.

“U.S. Steel and Nucor are going through the exclusion requests and commenting if they can supply the product,” he said. “And, anytime someone says they can supply the product, the exclusion of request is denied.”

And as much as DuBoff is hoping someone will say it can produce the product — a long, thin steel wire that he shapes into staples — he’s fairly certain no one will.

“We already would be using them,” he said.

DuBoff also is fairly certain that, if his application gets through the comment period, it will not be acted upon quickly due to the volume of requests.

“There’s the 30-day comment period and then it’s as long as it takes them to get to it,” he said. “There is no guarantee on time.

“We were actually early, when we submitted the initial request, and that took 60 days. It wouldn’t shock me if this one took six months because they’re inundated with 20,000 requests.”

That’s a long time to tell a story that makes no sense.

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Logistics firm expands, creating U.K. office

Worldwide Logistics Ltd., a logistics company based in Paramus, has established a United Kingdom subsidiary, it announced this week.

UK WWL Ltd. will be a full-service branch in the Worldwide Logistics network, covering the entire British Isles, the company said in a news release.

“Opening our London branch is the first in a series of new office openings aimed at strengthening our network and complementing our existing activities in other company-owned locations, including China, Vietnam, India and the U.S.A.,” CEO and President Joseph Monaghan said in a prepared statement. “Methodical expansion of our network in response to client demand will continue to be our strategy ver the next several years.”

Anthony John will lead the unit out of an office in Basildon, the company said. He will report to Thomas Peacock, director of supply chain, who is based in the Paramus headquarters.

UK WWL will focus on air and ocean forwarding, project and exhibition forwarding and Amazon-related programs, the company said.

Edison Partners names three to VP roles

Princeton-based investment and advisory firm Edison Partners has promoted three executives to vice president, it announced Monday.

The firm said James Hill, Jennifer Lee and Doba Parushev had all been senior associates with the investment team.

“We’re proud of the exceptional talents that Jennifer, James and Doba each bring to our firm,” Chris Sugden, managing partner, said in a prepared statement. “We are also excited to be in the fortunate position to provide growth opportunities to these high performers. With these promotions, we recognize not only strong results, but also the energy, intellect and strong networks these individuals have that will benefit our limited partners and entrepreneurs.”

Hill is a member of the firm’s health care information technology practice who first joined the firm in 2013 as a summer associate.

Lee focuses on the firm’s fintech investments; she joined as an associate in 2016.

And Parushev also joined the firm as an associate in 2016. His focus is on investments and sourcing within the enterprise solutions sector.

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Newell announces sale of its Goody hairstyling unit

Newell Brands Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to sell its Goody Products Inc. unit, a maker of hairstyling tools and accessories, it announced recently.

The Hoboken-based consumer goods company said in a news release that it will sell Goody Products to a fund managed by ACON Investments LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.

It is the the latest move by Newell, which has been focusing its portfolio on core brands.

The deal is expected to close within about 30 days, subject to customary conditionis and approvals.

Baird acted as Newell’s financial advser.

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‘We want to meet entrepreneurs doing cool things … we can help fund them’

Steve Socolof was excited to announce that Tech Council Ventures, the venture fund arm of the New Jersey Technology Council, had made its first investment with NJTC Fund II — and that it is closing in on a second.

Socolof was thrilled to say the fund has attracted more than 600 applications already.

But, more than anything, Socolof was determined to let entrepreneurs know there is still plenty of opportunities with the fund.

“We have opened the door in terms of looking at opportunities,” he told ROI-NJ. “We’ve seen a tremendous inflow and we’ve got a really good pipeline, but, basically, the door is open.

“We want to meet entrepreneurs doing cool things and we’re excited to be in a position where we can help fund them.”

Socolof, a managing partner at Tech Council Ventures, has made a career out of doing this.

In the ’90s, as vice president of new ventures for Lucent Technologies, Socolof was instrumental in the launch of a venture incubator that helped Bell Labs, Lucent’s research and development arm, bring its innovation to market.

In 2001, Socolof left Lucent to become managing partner at New Venture Partners, in New Providence, where he worked with large companies such as IBM, Intel, Motorola and Philips to commercialize their technology.

Socolof and Jim Gunton, another industry veteran, co-manage the Tech Council Ventures fund.

Gunton spent the early part his career working with Fortune 500 companies in Silicon Valley, including Oracle and PricewaterhouseCoopers. He moved East in 1994 to work at Edison Partners, now located in Princeton, before transitioning to the New Jersey Technology Council to spearhead its venture funds.

Gunton is a member of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority‘s Technology Advisory Board, where his guidance and input helps the EDA in the decision-making process regarding which companies should receive funding under the Edison Innovation Fund.

The NJCT Fund II made its first investment in Holmdel-based Vydia.

Vydia, which is located at Bell Works, provides a platform for over 200,000 video content creators to share their content through all the online distribution channels.

Socolof said the fund is close to announcing a second investment. And, in the coming years, Socolof said, you can expect two dozen more.

“The plan is to invest in 20-25 companies,” he said. “We are set up as a 10-year fund. We would expect to make our initial commitment to companies in the first 3-5 years. Following that, we will make some follow-up commitments.”

The initial investment could be between $500,000 and $2 million, he said.

Tech Council Ventures
Stephen Socolof, left, and Jim Gunton co-manage Tech Council Ventures.

Here’s what Socolof said he and Gunton are looking for.

“In terms of stage, we’re looking for companies that are demonstrating initial traction and growth,” he said. “In venture-stage terms, we could say, ‘Late seed or Series A.’”

Socolof said the fund is open to any and all opportunities, but noted it likes emerging companies in fast-growing sectors, including health care information technology, life sciences, education technology, financial technology, media technology and energy.

“We’re pretty open, sector-wise,” he said. “We have such a good network, through the council and through our investors, we feel we can be open to any sector that represents the strengths of the region.”

The fund has a variety of investors, including New Jersey Fortune 500 corporations, health systems, multiple university endowments and Wall Street financial institutions. It also got a $7.5 million investment from the EDA.

Both Socolof and Gunton feel New Jersey has a lot to offer startups.

“It used to be that 90 percent of venture capital investments were focused on Silicon Valley and 10 percent on Boston,” Socolof said. “But, now, there’s a startup ecosystem everywhere, and we are seeing lots of investment opportunities up and down the Mid-Atlantic region and in New Jersey in particular. The time has never been better for our strategy and how we can foster innovation.”

Gunton agreed.

“New Jersey has tremendous advantages as a home for early-stage companies,” he said. “As the most densely-populated state providing a range of business and living communities and nestled next to New York and Philadelphia, there is great talent and opportunity to work with leaders in almost every industry sector.”

And while the fund is based in New Jersey and through the New Jersey Tech Council, Socolof said not all of the investment will be to New Jersey-based companies. He estimated roughly half will be.

“Because Jim and I both live here, we have a bit of a bias toward New Jersey,” he said. “And we get EDA money and have a whole lot of investors who are excited about what we are doing in New Jersey.

“But, our official geographic scope is the Mid-Atlantic region, so we’re also looking at New York and Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware.”

The biggest thing, Socolof stressed, is the fund is still seeking more applications.

“We have a lot of money to invest and we’re still raising more,” he said. “We’re interested in finding the best places to put it.”

Conversation starter

Socolof and Gunton will participate in the upcoming New Jersey Founders & Funders event on Nov. 1 in New Brunswick, where investors meet one-on-one with entrepreneurs during speed dating-type sessions to discuss strategy, business models and funding opportunities.

Entrepreneurs can apply online here.

Socolof and Gunton also said they welcome and encourage entrepreneurs to email them directly at jim@techcouncilventures.com and steve@techcouncilventures.com.

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Angel investors put nearly $39M into N.J. economy in first half of 2018

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority has approved 60 Angel Investor Tax Credit program applications this year, helping to put nearly $39 million into 20 different technology and life science companies, the EDA announced late Friday.

The Angel Investor Tax Credit Program offers a 10 percent refundable tax credit against New Jersey corporation business or gross income tax for qualified investments in an emerging technology business with a physical presence in New Jersey and that conducts research, manufacturing or technology commercialization in the state. Applications must be submitted within six months of date of investment.

In the second quarter of 2018 alone, 36 investors pumped nearly $16.9 million through the program. The average investment size was $469,099.

“The fact that more people are supporting early-stage companies and the ground-breaking work they are doing reaffirms Gov. (Phil) Murphy’s vision for re-establishing New Jersey’s leadership position in the innovation economy,” EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said.

“These latest Angel Investor Tax Credit Program statistics illustrate how New Jersey’s expanding portfolio of support spurs innovation throughout the entire technology and life sciences sector.”

Sullivan noted that, in the second quarter of 2018, approvals included investments in three companies that were new to the program, totaling $2.7 million in combined private investment.

Boxcar Inc.: Located at Newark Venture Partners in Newark, Boxcar Inc. offers an app that helps commuters find and reserve parking spots at select New Jersey train stations. Boxcar Inc. also runs buses from Madison, Chatham, Westfield, Livingston, West Orange and Cranford into and out of Manhattan.

The company, which was founded in 2016, secured $50,000 in investment through the Angel Investor Tax Credit Program in its seed round of funding. Boxcar Inc. CEO Joe Colangelo indicated the company plans to use the funds to further support infrastructure following the closing of the round.

AptaPharma: Located in Pennsauken, AptaPharma provides clients with an array of oral drug delivery technologies and product development services for the pharmaceutical industry. The company also manufactures a broad range of over-the-counter products.

AptaPharma said it expects to use the $2.2 million it raised from four investors to support the financing of new machinery and equipment and to hire additional researchers. The investments were made into the company’s seed round of funding. AptaPharma, which was founded in 2006, was approved last year for a Grow New Jersey award of $4.52 million to expand its facility in Pennsauken rather than relocating its manufacturing facility to neighboring Pennsylvania.

Urigen Pharmaceuticals: Located within the EDA’s Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies in North Brunswick, Urigen Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company specializing in the design and implementation of innovative products for patients with urological ailments, including Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome, among others.

To date, 12 investors have participated in the Angel Investor Tax Credit program, injecting a total of $460,000 into the company. The funding, which went into Urigen’s Series D round, was used to complete Phase II trials of the company’s lead product, URG101, to treat acute pain associated with IC/BPS.

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