Anyone wanting to do business in Somerset County will have a chance to meet some of the key players Friday, June 7, from 8 a.m. to noon when the Somerset County Business Partnership, the Somerset County Freeholders, and the Somerset County Planning Board host a conference as the culmination of a four-year effort by the three organizations to create an environment for economic growth in the county.

The event will be held in the conference room at Raritan Valley Community College, Route 28 and Lamington Road in Branchburg. Registration fee is $50 and includes continental breakfast. Registration is available online at or by contacting the Business Partnership at 908-218-4300.

The “endnote” speaker will be Tracye McDaniel, president & CEO of Choose New Jersey, the independent, privately funded Princeton Forrestal Center-based non-profit corporation created by New Jersey businesses to promote the state as a viable business location. Her topic: “The Power of the Public-Private Partnership.”

As the press release announcing the conference states, “the conference is the initial step toward implementation of the work of the county (with municipal buy in) to identify a priority investment framework for future growth. Together the partnership between the public and private sectors has given Somerset a set of strategies that are unique in New Jersey and provide a competitive edge by aligning Somerset County economic strategies in line with the State Strategic Plan.”

McDaniel previously served as CEO for the Texas Economic Development Corporation’s “Texas One” program, a public-private partnership marketing initiative to generate job leads by actively promoting Texas as a business location. She then was named executive director of the office of the Texas governor’s economic development and tourism division.

Before moving to her new position as CEO of Choose New Jersey, (U.S. 1 May 18, 2011) McDaniel was executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Greater Houston Partnership.

Specifics to be discussed at the conference are expected to include factors impacting competitiveness and how business and government, working in partnership, can align federal, state, county, local, and private resources to maximize the growth potential of the inherent assets of an educated workforce, and ideal location, and an outstanding quality of life.

Participants include Bob Antonicello, chairman of the New Jersey chapter of the Urban Land Institute; Timothy Evans, research director, of New Jersey Future; Bernard Navatto, chairman, Somerset County Planning Board; Colette Santasieri, director of strategic advantages, New Jersey Institute of Technology; Debra Tantleff, vice president of development, Mack-Cali.

Also Michael Van Wagner, executive director, New Jersey Business Action Center; Troy Fischer, general manager, Bridgewater Commons; Dennis McConnell, executive vice president, Jones Lang LaSalle Americas; and Michele Boronkas, executive director, New Jersey State Employment & Training Commission.

The Somerset Business Partnership serves as central New Jersey’s regional chamber of commerce. Members and investors from public, private, and community organizations work in partnership to promote economic prosperity.

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