Tim Greiner, an executive managing director with JLL (left), interviewed Forbes Media Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Steve Forbes on June 22 during the United Way of Northern New Jersey’s virtual Legacy Event. — Courtesy: United Way
By Joshua Burd
When it comes to working remotely, Steve Forbes concedes that a media company may have had an easier time than others that were adapting their business to a pandemic.
But the iconic publishing executive isn’t ready to leave the office behind just yet.
“I don’t think offices are going to go away any more than electronics did away with paper,” said Forbes, the chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, arguing that there is “absolutely no substitute” for face-to-face collaboration. “We used to think, with electronics, who would need paper? Well, we have more than ever before. So yes, office space will be there.”
The statement undoubtedly struck a chord with those on hand last week for the United Way of Northern New Jersey’s Legacy Event, an annual fundraiser involving the commercial real estate sector. Forbes served as the program’s featured speaker, while the organization also presented its Impact Award to the team behind Everest Reinsurance Co.’s relocation to Warren Corporate Center in Warren, where it’s leasing 315,000 square feet.
Held virtually this year, the June 22 program raised $300,000 for individuals and families who are working but still struggling economically. The United Way describes those individuals as asset-limited, income-constrained and employed, or ALICE, noting that many of them are essential workers who have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.
“United Way is working to address the immediate and long-term needs of ALICE families who were struggling to make ends meet with little or no ability to save even before the pandemic hit,” said Theresa Leamy, United Way’s chief fundraiser. “This pandemic will have a lasting impact on these families and we intend to help individuals get connected to the resources and training that will be needed to return to jobs in a post-COVID-19 world.”
Forbes took part in a wide-ranging interview with JLL’s Tim Greiner, a United Way board member, covering everything from the economy to the media landscape to providing leadership from a distance. He also noted that Forbes Media, which is based in Jersey City, has begun to think about how to safely bring employees back to the workplace.
“We’re reconfiguring our office space now for this new environment,” Forbes said. “We had very open architecture, which is great for the media business before COVID, but now we’ve got to make adjustments post-COVID.”
He added that he expected to “see some innovations on how you architect these things,” just as the airline industry is adapting in order to ease consumers’ health concerns. He pointed to proposals such as reversing middle seats and using glass barriers to better separate passengers, along with developing jets that offer double-decker seating with additional privacy.
Additionally, Forbes called on the federal government to take three key steps before November’s election to help businesses and individuals recover from the economic toll of the pandemic: Pass a temporary payroll tax holiday, extend the Federal Reserve’s small business loan repayment period to 10 years and send out a second round of stimulus checks.
“A temporary payroll tax holiday … that would reduce the cost for businesses to hire people and keep people — good job creation — and it also gives an immediate raise if you’re making $40,000 a year,” Forbes said. “It gives you the equivalent of an annual raise of $3,000 tax-free, so I hope they do that.”
The United Way of Northern New Jersey noted that its Legacy Event typically draws some 500 commercial real estate professionals, but was moved online due to the pandemic. The event still broke previous fundraising records, the organization said, noting that the commercial real estate sector since 2000 has helped it raise more than $3.2 million.
This year’s Impact Award recipient, Everest Reinsurance, is moving its U.S. headquarters to the Warren Corporate Center and plans to increase its workforce by 600 employees, according to the United Way. The company is doing so under a lease with Vision Real Estate Partners and Rubenstein Partners LP, which have repositioned the 176-acre campus off Interstate 78.
This winning team includes ownership, Cushman & Wakefield, CBRE, HLW, Robert Derector Associates, Structure Tone, Fox Rothschild LLP, Gibbons PC, WB Wood, Herman Miller, The Rock Brook Consulting and Bohler Engineering.
The four other finalists for this year’s award were the repositioning of 340 Mount Kemble Ave. in Morris Township, Genmab’s 90,000-square-foot lease at 777 Scudders Mill Road in Plainsboro, the new Rockefeller Group Logistics Center in Piscataway and Vitaquest International’s new facility in Parsippany.