#b#Legendary EDA Director Dies, And Her Former Agency Faces Scrutiny#/b#

Caren Franzini, who led the New Jersey Economic Development Authority for 18 years, died on January 25 at age 57 in her home in Lambertville, following a long battle with cancer. She served seven governors as CEO of the EDA, from 1994 to 2012. She joined the agency in 1991 as deputy director.

Franzini served governors of both parties, including Chris Christie, who said in a statement that “Caren was a tireless advocate for New Jersey’s business community and a passionate public servant. She championed the revitalization of our urban centers and encouraged entrepreneurship in the Garden State.”

A native of Atlantic City, Franzini led the creation of programs aimed at bolstering technology and life science companies in the state. Her tenure also saw revitalization efforts take shape in Camden, Newark, Trenton, and other cities.

When she retired from the EDA to become a consultant, the newspaper NJ Biz credited her with being “a powerful female business executive in a state that sadly does not have enough” and with using her position at the EDA to help small businesses.

Franzini oversaw the agency at a time when states including New Jersey began using their economic development programs to lure businesses to their states, or keep them there, by offering generous tax incentives in exchange for investing and employing state residents. Between 2000 and 2010, New Jersey gave $1.2 billion in business subsidies. That amount surged in 2010, and continued growing after Franzini departed. More than $7.4 billion was given out in tax subsidies between 2010 and 2016.

The EDA has come under scrutiny recently. The state auditor recently released a report saying the authority must do a better job with its three main programs, Grow NJ, the Business Employment Incentive Program, and Business Retention and Relocation Assistance Grants. The state auditor, Stephen Eells, said the EDA should do a better job ensuring that the recipients of tax credits were following through on their commitments to make investments and employ target numbers of people.

The auditor said “adequate controls were in place” in most other NJEDA programs.

#b#Business Owner Sentenced for Fraud#/b#

The owner of United Products Instruments, a medical equipment company on Ridge Road in Dayton, has been sentenced to three years and one month in prison for a scheme to avoid paying taxes by diverting profits to offshore shell companies.

Michael Q. Fu pled guilty to tax evasion and conspiracy last month. His business partner, Albert Chang, also pled guilty and has yet to be sentenced. The company sold microscopes and centrifuges. Prosecutors said the two hid at least $1.5 million in a scam involving overpaying a Hong Kong company by five percent on otherwise legitimate invoices, and having the Hong Kong company pass along the overbilled amount to shell companies in China.

Merger

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, 1 Robert Wood Johnson Place, New Brunswick 08903. 732-828-3000. Stephen K. Jones, president/CEO. www.rwjuh.edu.

RWJ Barnabas Health, the healthcare system that owns Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, has formed an alliance with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to create a pediatric healthcare delivery system in central and northern New Jersey.

“RWJBarnabas Health is tremendously excited about the potential alliance with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,” said Barry H. Ostrowsky, CEO of, RWJBarnabas Health. “Combining our three highly recognized children’s hospitals, pediatric rehabilitation hospital and outpatient pediatric services with the outstanding reputation for excellence of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will bring the very finest pediatric care to families in the entire region.”

#b#Merger Cancelled#/b#

The Bank of Princeton, 194 Nassau Street, Princeton 08542. 609-921-3311. Kris Muse, senior vice president. www.thebankofprinceton.com.

The Bank of Princeton and Investors Bancorp have scuttled their planned merger, which was announced in May. The $154 million deal, in which Investors would take over the Bank of Princeton’s 13 branches, had been the subject of a stock buy by an investor who wanted to block the deal. (U.S. 1, September 7, 2016.)

The banks told the FDIC in January that they believed the merger would not be completed by a March 31 deadline.

#b#New in Town#/b#

Simple Solve, 114 Titus Mill Road, Pennington 08534. 609-452-2323. Sam Serrapede, vice president, COO. www.simplesolve.com.

Simple Solve, an IT consulting business, has opened an office on Titus Mill Road. The company was founded in 2000 and has offices in India as well as the U.S.

#b#Crosstown Moves#/b#

Semandex Networks Inc., 101 College Road East, Princeton 08540. 609-285-2509. Daniel Reininger, president and CEO. www.semandex.net.

Semandex Networks, Inc., has moved from Hamilton Avenue in Hopewell to College Road East in Princeton. The software developer, founded in 2000, creates semantic software for information management and specializes in the application for intelligence information analysis and sharing.

Tango, the company’s core product, organizes information to allow law enforcement to see connections between people, places, organizations, and events. It also delivers “operational alerts for evolving situations of interest,” according to the company’s website. The product has been fielded on military networks to support collaborative analysis and investigations.

#b#Deaths#/b#

Stephen Joseph Komlosi, 55, on January 28. He co-owned T and S Auto Repair on Quakerbridge Road in Hamilton together with his brother, Thomas Komlosi Sr.

Rosemary “June” Lanzi, 84, on January 28. She and her late husband, Ange, owned Lanzi’s Lounge Jazz Club in Trenton.

Richard Kauffman, 81, on January 24. He was vice president of R&D at Applied Data Research in Princeton, an IBM competitor and software vendor in the 1960s through the 1980s. A memorial service will be held Saturday, February 4, at noon at Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church, 1680 Aquetong Road, New Hope.

Rustin Miller, 58, on January 15. He was the owner and operator of Onyx Fasteners in Ewing. A memorial service will be held Saturday, February 25, at 4 p.m. at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 300 South Main Street, Pennington.

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