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originally published: 10/19/2022

Middlesex County hosted Sixth Annual Business Summit;  honored guest speakers included US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr

(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) — Middlesex County hosted its sixth annual Business Summit on October 13 where a group of forward-thinking business leaders provided insights into leadership practices and resources that increase business retention, expansion, and economic opportunities for businesses of all sizes — from startups and family-owned businesses to larger organizations located in Middlesex County and beyond. In addition to important discussions around key industry topics such as how technology is reshaping the business world; new ways businesses are appealing to customers; and how micro and small businesses can gain access capital, this year’s Business Summit was designed to provide attendees with an opportunity to meet and network with their peers; share best practices; find new customers and investors; and discuss emerging market trends.

US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo joined Middlesex County officials and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. at this year’s Business Summit as keynote speaker and special honored guest. Additional featured speakers included Rashaad Bajwa, chief executive officer and co-founder of Integris and Michelle Bajwa, co-founder of Integris.

Tom Bergeron, founder, editor, and owner of ROI-NJ served as host for the Middlesex County Business Summit. Middlesex County Administrator John Pulomena and Monique Baptiste, executive director of Jobs & Skills/Workforce Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co. served as moderators.

Panelists included: Larisa Perlovsky, Optimum Business; Kapil Bansal, senior vice president of Hardware Solutions and Services at SHI; Angelina Darrisaw, founder and CEO of C-Suite Coach; Christopher McCrae, retail technology and innovation at Wakefern Food Corp.; Dreena Whitfield, CEO & founder, WhitPR; Justyna Krygowska, vice president of the Tara Dowdell Group; Luis De La Hoz, first vice president and regional director of community lending NJ at Valley Bank; Libby Bajgerova, vice president of market manager/business development leader at Columbia Bank; Victor Salama, executive director of Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation; Vaughn Crowe, managing partner at Newark Venture Partners; Kathleen Coviello, chief economic transformation officer at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority; Maria Szydlowski, vice president of human resources at MTF Biologics; Sara Grauch, director, Americas Assurance Talent Team at Ernst & Young; and Tara Dowdell, president at Tara Dowdell Group.

“Middlesex County has been on a transformative journey over the last decade centered on making strategic business decisions and investments that have a lasting, positive impact on those that live, work, and play in Middlesex County. Since beginning on this journey in 2008, the County has grown its surplus year after year; decreased debt by $280 million; and maintained a coveted AAA bond rating, all which allow for key investments that grow our economy and improve the quality of life long-term, including investments in healthcare, education, transportation, arts and culture, and business,” said Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ronald G.Rios. “Middlesex County’s ability to play a leading role in the development of these projects is testament to the long-standing, robust public and private partnerships we have at the local and state government level and with our business community – the same partnerships celebrated at this year’s Business Summit.”

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“Right now, we have an unprecedented opportunity to invest in US companies, American workers, and our innovation economy. I am glad to have joined Chairman Pallone in New Brunswick today to discuss how we can best leverage this moment,” said US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Thanks to the passage of the CHIPs and Science Act, we will make once-in-a-generation investments to build a semiconductor ecosystem in the US that will protect our economic and national security while creating good-paying, high quality jobs for Americans across the country.”

“I’m proud to welcome Secretary Raimondo to New Brunswick, so she can hear about the great things Middlesex County is doing to boost our economy in New Jersey. Together with the Biden Administration, we’re investing in American workers, innovation, and manufacturing,” said Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. “The CHIPS and Science Act will lower costs for consumers, create good-paying American jobs, and end our dangerous dependence on foreign manufacturers of critical goods. New Jersey has a well-known reputation for leading the nation in research and manufacturing and we’re working together to continue that legacy by investing in American workers and businesses right here in our backyard.”

“Every innovative idea is sparked by a need for a solution,” said Michelle Y. Bajwa, Vice President & Co-founder, Integris. “This Business Summit is an example of that, businesses in our community need a place to connect, network, learn and grow – this event checks off those boxes and is a crucial resource for Middlesex County. We are proud to be part of this year’s event and look forward to how this platform evolves in the years to come.”

A dedicated morning session featured a fireside chat with Secretary Gina Raimondo and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. where they highlighted why Middlesex County is a pre-eminent destination for future-focused industries, and how the CHIPS and Science Act will impact the County and the State of New Jersey as a whole. In addition to the Business Summits two main panels, How Technology is Reshaping the Way We Do Business and Tomorrow’s Workforce – Today’s Challengesthis year’s program offered three concurrent breakout sessions: Finding New Ways to Appeal to Your Customers, Getting Access to Funding – Traditional Edition, and Getting Access to Funding – Venture Capital Edition.

Established in 2017, the Middlesex County Business Summit was created to support the County’s future-forward economic development strategy — Destination 2040 — by providing leadership and resources to increase business retention, expansion, and economic opportunities for County residents and businesses. Destination 2040 envisions transforming the County into a central hub that fosters innovation, partnerships, and collaboration.

For more information about the event, including key takeaways, please click here.

Middlesex County is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, three universities, 19 park systems, and world-class healthcare and research facilities making it one of the nation’s most dynamic regions and a leader in technology, transportation, the arts, and food innovation. As one of the most diverse populations in the country, Middlesex County is home to over 863,000 residents living throughout 25 municipalities. The County’s award-winning Middlesex County Magnet Schools system and two-year Middlesex College uphold its position as #1 in the state for best schools, offering secondary and postsecondary education and workforce development programs that create a unique ecosystem in which opportunities abound. Conveniently located between New York and Philadelphia, Middlesex County is a leading destination for businesses and residents alike to live, work, and play – and has been since the 17th century.