By Joshua Burd
Gov. Phil Murphy has named a former banker and current public official in Connecticut as the next CEO of the powerful New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
Tim Sullivan, who is a Bergen County native, is now in line to lead an organization that has been instrumental in many of the state’s largest projects and commercial real estate transactions in recent years. He currently serves as deputy commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development and is also a former economic development official in New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The move comes less than a week after Murphy, who was sworn in Jan. 17, ordered an audit of the independent state authority. The new governor has criticized the state’s use of incentives as being skewed toward large corporations and far less helpful to small businesses, an issue that he seemingly plans to address with Sullivan at the helm.
“New Jersey is a wonderful state with tremendous advantages, from our coveted location to our highly skilled workforce, and we need an Economic Development Authority that works night and day to make the case to businesses that they’re missing out to not have us on their list,” Murphy said. “Economic development is not a one-note symphony of lavish tax breaks, but a multi-faceted effort to leverage everything we have to offer.
“From lifting up small businesses to growing the number of technology incubators where tomorrow’s innovators are being born, we need a new culture at EDA. I am asking Tim use his wealth of experience to help grow and strengthen our economy and make New Jersey an even better place for businesses to call home.”
Murphy called on the EDA to take up Sullivan’s appointment at its next board meeting. He will succeed Melissa Orsen, who stepped down in November after nearly three years in the post.
Sullivan, who does not require confirmation by the state Senate, said he was “honored to have the opportunity to join Governor Murphy’s cabinet and look forward to working with him to create an economy that is as exciting, innovative and diverse as New Jersey.”
“New Jersey has tremendous assets and opportunities in front of it, and I look forward to working with the team at EDA and our partners throughout state government to help create jobs and economic opportunity in every corner of the state,” Sullivan said. “In particular, I am eager to expand EDA’s focus on the small business and startup sectors of the economy that will be the drivers of long-term, sustainable job and economic growth, as well as partnering with municipal leaders to strengthen New Jersey’s cities and downtowns to make them even stronger magnets for talent and private sector investment.”
Sullivan joined the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development in January 2014 and was named deputy commissioner a year later, according to a news release. He has overseen state tourism and branding, brownfield redevelopment, transit-oriented development and waterfront initiatives as part of that role.
Prior to that, he served as chief of staff to the New York City deputy mayor for economic development in the Bloomberg administration. His responsibilities included key areas of city policy such as transportation and transit-oriented development, brownfield redevelopment, waterfront and port redevelopment, public and affordable housing policy, small business support, infrastructure finance and public-private partnerships.
Both Gov. Dannel Malloy and Bloomberg was effusive in praising Sullivan, with the latter congratulating Murphy “on an outstanding choice to lead his economic development team.
“Tim played a key role on many of the most important development projects during my administration and I am confident he will bring that significant experience and knowledge to his new position in New Jersey,” Bloomberg said.
According to the news release, Sullivan played a critical role in the development of Cornell University’s engineering and applied science campus on Roosevelt Island, major brownfield and waterfront development projects in the outer boroughs and several other initiatives.
Prior to joining city government in 2010, he worked at Barclays Capital in New York as chief of staff to the head of global investment banking, a position he also held at Lehman Bros. prior to its acquisition by Barclays in 2008. He began his career in investment banking at Lehman in 2003 as a health care banker, focused on mergers and acquisitions, as well as capital markets transactions for companies in the managed care, biotechnology and health care services sectors.
Sullivan is a graduate of Georgetown University and Bergen Catholic High School.