Kennedy to join EDA as senior adviser on manufacturing

Recently retired head of NJMEP will help in many areas — with special interest in obtaining federal grants

John Kennedy, the longtime head of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program and well-known expert and connector on all things related to the sector, will be joining the New Jersey Economic Development Authority as a senior adviser to CEO Tim Sullivan, it was announced Friday.

Kennedy will be focused on positioning New Jersey to maximize the opportunities available from the CHIPS and IRA federal investment programs, Sullivan said. Kennedy also will be called on to leverage his considerable expertise and network in supporting the strategic sector efforts in manufacturing, life sciences, offshore wind and food and beverage.

In theory, it’s a part-time role for Kennedy, who retired from MEP earlier this year. Those that know him, however, know he only has one speed — and one level of extraordinary commitment to both manufacturing and the state.

Sullivan obviously is happy to have Kennedy on the team.

“Under Gov. (Phil) Murphy’s leadership, manufacturing is adding jobs at an unprecedented clip, and adding John Kennedy’s expertise and relationships to the team will only help accelerate that momentum,” he said. “John will also play a critical role in ensuring New Jersey gets its fair share — or more — of the numerous federal grant opportunities being provided by the (President Joe) Biden administration.

“As the NJEDA continues to advance Gov. Murphy’s vision of a stronger and fairer New Jersey economy, we are thrilled to add extraordinary leaders like John to the authority.”

Kennedy said he was happy to turn the reigns of MEP over to Pete Connolly (the new CEO) and others — but also happy for a chance to contribute in a new way.

“In conversations with Tim Sullivan and Gov. Murphy, it became apparent that I could still help my home state to move forward in many areas, including federal funding,” he said. “I look forward to working with Tim and this team to make this happen.”

Kennedy holds an undergraduate degree from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, an MBA from Columbia University and a doctorate from LaSalle University. He also has owned and sold two businesses. Of course, those who know him, know he most prefers to be known as a Madison Dodger.