ReNew Jersey Summit releases top-level agenda for event

Bracken: 2-day discussion in Atlantic City in March features high-caliber panelists and keynote speakers

A panel featuring companies that are investing heavily in the state of New Jersey will highlight the ReNew Jersey Business Summit & Expo … or is it the panel on how artificial intelligence will impact the state … or the panel on why New Jersey Is the most improved state for doing business … or the panel addressing inequities in the business world … or the talks from powerful New Jersey leaders Joaquin Duato (Johnson & Johnson) or Peter Cancro (Jersey Mike’s Subs) … or the conversations from legislative leaders or Gov. Phil Murphy — or all those looking to succeed Murphy.

We think you get the point.

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce is confident the ReNew Jersey Summit — to be held March 26-27 at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City — will have something for everyone.

The chamber released the agenda Friday — and it’s filled with a who’s who from the business and political world.

Chamber CEO Tom Bracken said the goal is for the state’s top leaders to have an open discussion on where the state is headed — and what it needs to do to get there in the best way possible.

“We shot high because we wanted to exceed last year,” he said. “We want to keep the state’s momentum going — and we needed to have high-caliber participants on the panels and high-caliber keynotes to do so. I think we met our expectations.”

Early registration is proving that point.

The event drew more than 900 last year — and the early registration is ahead of last year’s pace.

Bracken thinks 1,000 or more participants is a real possibility.

“We think this is going to be something that continues our goal of improving the profile of our state, and showing the greatness of New Jersey so that we can continue to move forward economically,” he said.

Here’s a look at the agenda:

March 26

8:30 a.m.: Expo and networking area opens.

11:15 a.m.: Welcome remarks from Tom Bracken, CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

11:20 a.m.: Jersey Mike’s: A worldwide brand — CEO Peter Cancro will discuss how company went from one store in Point Pleasant (in 1956) to more than 2,800 worldwide locations today. He’ll discuss the company’s strong ties to the state and how it works to help New Jersey communities.

11:30 a.m.: Investing in New Jersey — Well-known companies and organizations making major job creation and economic growth investments in New Jersey discuss why they chose the state to expand their operations.

  • Gary Dahms, president, T&M Associates, and chair, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce (Moderator);
  • Thierry Klein, president, Bell Labs Solutions Research, Nokia Bell Labs;
  • Jim Fakult, president, Jersey Central Power & Light, a First Energy Company;
  • Kris Kolluri, CEO, Gateway Development Commission;
  • Lauren Nathan LaRusso, co-Host City manager & general counsel, FIFA World Cup;
  • Alberto Garofalo, president, New Jersey, Bank of America.

12:15 p.m.: New Jersey: The most improved state for doing business — In 2023, New Jersey leaped to 19th in the overall CNBC America’s Top States for Business rankings, after landing in the 42nd spot the previous year. The panel will discuss how New Jersey achieved the ranking — and what the state needs to do to maintain or improve it.

  • Wes Mathews, CEO & president, Choose New Jersey (Moderator);
  • Ralph LaRossa, president, Public Service Enterprise Group, and chair, Choose New Jersey;
  • Tim Sullivan, CEO, New Jersey Economic Development Authority;
  • Bill Hagaman, CEO emeritus, Withum.

1 p.m.: From Edison to AI: The innovation state — The past few years have seen the rise of artificial intelligence and other technological advancements that will transform business and society. This panel will focus on how New Jersey government officials, academia and corporate leaders are preparing for the future.

  • Mike Reagan, senior vice president, consulting services, CGI (Moderator);
  • Teik Lim, president, New Jersey Institute of Technology;
  • Justin Murray, director of partnerships, TechUnited: New Jersey;
  • Beth Noveck, chief artificial intelligence strategist, state of New Jersey;
  • Craig B. Arnold, vice dean for innovation, Princeton University.

1:45 p.m.: Break.

2 p.m.: Where do we grow from here? Smart planning for future — New Jersey is well-positioned to attract companies. The question now: How does New Jersey pave the way — and remove the obstacles — so the state’s economy can flourish?

  • Ted Zangari, member, Sills Cummis & Gross (Moderator);
  • Eric Brophy, senior adviser, Governor’s Office;
  • Lisa Chowansky, president, HC Constructors;
  • John McCormac, mayor, Woodbridge Township;
  • Dan Kennedy, CEO, NAOIP New Jersey;
  • Adam Zellner, president, Greener by Design.

2:45 p.m.: Legislative leaders: Policy discussion from policymakers — Four legislative leaders will discuss what their parties are doing to help business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate executives.

Ben Dworkin, director, Rowan Institute for Public Policy & Citizenship (Moderator);

  • Senate majority representative (TBD);
  • Sen. Anthony Bucco, Republican leader;
  • Asm. Craig Coughlin, Assembly speaker;
  • Asm. John DiMaio, Republican minority leader.

3:30 p.m.: Moving the needle: Addressing longstanding inequities — The recently released state disparity study concluded that minority- and women-owned businesses are awarded too small a share of government contracts.

  • Wendy Lanski, director, enterprise vendor management & operations,
    Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Moderator);
  • John Harmon, CEO & president, African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey;
  • Augusto “Gus” Penaranda, executive director, New Jersey PRIDE Chamber of Commerce;
  • Luis De La Hoz, chairman, Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey;
  • Jeff Cantor, CEO, New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce.

4:15 p.m.: Fireside chat with Johnson & Johnson CEO Joaquin Duato — J&J Chair and CEO Joaquin Duato talks about the company’s 138-year journey from its modest beginnings as a 14-person company on Neilson Street in New Brunswick to becoming the world’s largest, most diversified health care products company, with more than 130,000 employees.

  • Tom Bergeron, owner/editor, ROI-NJ (moderator);
  • Joaquin Duato, chair and CEO, Johnson & Johnson.

4:45 p.m.: Address from Gov. Phil Murphy — The governor will outline the state’s economic policies and what his administration is doing to help companies during these times of continued economic uncertainty.

  • Braxton Plummer, director of state/local government affairs, Verizon (introduction);
  • Phil Murphy.

5:15-7 p.m.: Network reception.

March 27

7:30 a.m.: Breakfast opens.

8:15 a.m.: Welcome to Atlantic City from State Sen. Vince Polistina.

8:30 a.m.: The 2025 Gubernatorial Campaign: Issues important to business — New Jersey executives discuss economic issues the next governor will face.

  • Tom Bracken, CEO, N.J. Chamber of Commerce (moderator);
  • Gil Medina, executive vice president, CBRE;
  • Diane Wasser, partner in charge, New Jersey, EisnerAmper;
  • Chris Abruzzo, vice president of business development, New Jersey American Water;
  • Jim Kirkos, CEO, Meadowlands Chamber.

9:15 a.m.: Closing out the decade on top — New Jersey political leaders (and gubernatorial hopefuls) discuss what policies and programs are needed to ensure state achieves a CNBC Top 10 ranking by end of decade.

  • Micah Rasmussen, director, Rebovich Institute for N.J. Politics (moderator);
  • Ras Baraka, mayor, city of Newark (Democrat);
  • Jon Bramnick, state senator (Republican);
  • Jack Ciattarelli, former assemblyman (Republican);
  • Steve Sweeney, former state Senate president (Democrat);
  • Additional panelists may be added.

10:15 a.m.: Closing — A wrap-up of the event from Tom  Bracken, CEO, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.