Choose New Jersey opens economic development office in Ireland

Gov. Phil Murphy’s desire to increase economic investment from overseas took another big step forward Thursday as Choose New Jersey announced it was opening an economic development office in Cork, Ireland.

The office, which will be run by Managing Director Steve Lenox, opened earlier this month. Choose officials said the office will represent all of Ireland — including Northern Ireland — and will help to grow the already-large presence of Irish businesses in New Jersey. In 2021, New Jersey-Ireland trade totaled $2.4 billion.

Steve Lenox. (Choose New Jersey)

The office is a direct result of the growing trade, investment and academic ties between New Jersey and Ireland — as well as Murphy’s economic mission with Choose New Jersey to Ireland in April.

The office will aim to strengthen the positive and mutually beneficial economic and commercial ties that exist between New Jersey and Ireland and promote New Jersey to Irish companies seeking to invest in the U.S., Choose officials said.

The Ireland office will be Choose New Jersey’s second office in Europe, following the opening of an office in Berlin in 2018. New Jersey is the first U.S. state to open an economic development office in Ireland.

Murphy applauded the announcement.

“New Jersey’s longstanding connection to Ireland, which was fortified during our recent economic mission, will be further strengthened by the office as it cultivates new and ongoing business partnerships,” he said. “The opening of the Choose New Jersey Ireland Office testifies to the global reach and impact of our state’s economy, whose stability and growth I have prioritized throughout my administration. We know New Jersey is the best place to start and expand a business, and now businesses in Ireland will know that, too.”

Choose New Jersey CEO Wes Mathews said the potential impact of the office is huge.

“Ireland has been a great economic partner for New Jersey, and the opening of this office gives us the opportunity to expand that partnership further by having a full-time presence in-country,” he said. “I look forward to working with Steve, who was instrumental to our recent successes in Ireland, to further cement New Jersey’s reputation as an attractive second home to Irish businesses.”

Worth the trip

The opening of the Choose New Jersey Ireland office is a direct result of Gov. Phil Murphy’s s economic mission to Ireland in April. The mission led to the signing of several Memorandums of Understanding, including the Student Exchange Agreement between Ireland’s South East Technological University and Rowan University.

The partnership creates an international graduate student exchange program and research collaboration opportunities between the universities. The School of Translational Biomedical Engineering and Sciences at Rowan, along with the Pharmaceutical Molecular & Biotechnology Research Centre at Waterford Institute of Technology, are leading the initiative to promote linkages in the areas of biomaterials, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, and to enrich the understanding of the culture of the two countries.

With contacts in Irish-American communities across New Jersey and the U.S., Lenox appears to have the right resume for the job. He is the president of Irish Network USA, a nonprofit organization established to build links between the U.S. and Ireland through business, culture, education and sports.

Lenox, who helped guide the governor’s trade mission to Ireland, said he’s eager to get started.

“Talk about the luck of the Irish: I’m able to call both New Jersey and Ireland home, and now I’ve been given an opportunity to make these longstanding links even more meaningful on both sides of the Atlantic,” he said.

“It will, of course, take more than luck to be successful, but with Gov. Murphy’s successful trip earlier this year as a foundation, as well as the amazing team at Choose New Jersey as support, I have no doubt that the vast economic potential that is so clearly evident will be realized.”

Ian Talbot, the chief executive of Chambers Ireland, welcomed the news.

“The opening of the Choose New Jersey office in Ireland is an important addition to the Irish business landscape,” he said. “We are excited about what this new partnership can bring and look forward to working with Choose New Jersey’s Ireland Office to continue to drive strategic development as we seek progressive ways to promote the competitiveness of Irish business abroad.”