Business Leader and Champion for Economic Development Wins Leadership Award
Smart Growth Award Category: Cary Edwards Leadership Award
Winner: Alfred C. Koeppe
The Cary Edwards Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have an outstanding commitment to improving the quality of life and promoting smart growth in New Jersey through sustainable land-use policy and practice.
This year’s recipient, Alfred C. Koeppe, is the chairman of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and recently retired from more than a decade of service as president and chief executive officer of the Newark Alliance, a nonprofit he helped found to improve Newark’s public schools and economic conditions. Prior to his tenure at the Newark Alliance, he served as president and chief operating officer of Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) and chief executive officer of Bell Atlantic-New Jersey.
Mr. Koeppe began his career with Bell Atlantic-New Jersey in 1969 in the operations department. He later became a trial attorney for the New Jersey Department of the Public Defender, and then for AT&T in the Department of Justice antitrust case. He served as chairman of Chief Justice Wilentz’s Supreme Court Commission to reform the New Jersey Court System and has also chaired the New Jersey Higher Education Commission and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.
He has deep roots in urban New Jersey. Growing up in Jersey City, he understood from an early age that economic opportunity and quality of life are inextricably bound to our success in creating and sustaining thriving, connected neighborhoods. That understanding led to a lifelong commitment to New Jersey’s cities, with particular attention to the people and institutions of Newark, Trenton and Camden.
He has taken the lead, time and again, in bringing together government, business and community leaders to advance sustainable development and redevelopment in our state’s cities and towns. As one of the founders and later the CEO of Newark Alliance, Mr. Koeppe developed a forum for Newark-based leaders, including the city’s major corporations, higher education, community and civic organizations, to develop achievable solutions to the issues affecting Newark’s growth. Under his leadership, Newark Alliance focused on myriad projects in key mission areas such as economic development, workforce development, public safety, education and advocacy. The organization serves as a unique model of community partnership that fosters pragmatic and sustainable solutions.
While at PSE&G, he was a driving force in the company’s growing investment in its host community of Newark, leading the company’s Urban Initiative in the city’s South Ward, which has been recognized widely as a model community development program. As the chairman of NJEDA, he undertook the creation of the Economic Recovery Board for Camden, which included the issuance of nearly $175 million in bonds for economic development projects in the City of Camden, and has led to more than $3 billion in private investment in the city.
New Jersey governors have reached out regularly to him as a business leader and someone with a deep understanding of community concerns, to seek his counsel for tackling some of the state’s most pressing issues, particularly infrastructure investment and economic development. In his role at the NJEDA, he has been a proactive advocate for the inclusion of safeguards in the state’s incentive programs, such as the former Urban Transit Hub tax credit program, now the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program, to ensure companies make and uphold the required commitments to develop facilities and hire employees. He undertook the implementation of a vast overhaul of the state’s incentive programs – first resulting from the New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act and again under the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act — in order to, ensure that already-developed and urban areas were a priority.
Mr. Koeppe serves currently as a trustee for St. Benedict’s Prep School in Newark and a director of the Board of Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield of New Jersey and of the New Jersey Resources Corporation.
Throughout his career, he has lived by the philosophy that if we are willing to engage in thoughtful planning to address economic development, education, housing, land use and transportation issues, and if we are willing to make the appropriate investments to spur local economic activity, preserve our natural environment and leverage our built environment, our reward will be vibrant places to live, work and play.