NJ Chamber reveals 2023 legislative, business award winners – NJBIZ

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The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce this week announced the recipients of the 2023 Legislative and Business Awards.

The winners will be honored at an Oct. 11 awards reception at Manasquan River Golf Club in Brielle. The biannual event also serves as a key networking opportunity, bringing together many power players from the public and private sector.

The Chamber has distributed these awards since 1996 as a way of recognizing outstanding state legislators and proactive business leaders for the work they do to ensure the Garden State is business friendly, economically successful, and a great place to live and work.

“We do it every two years. So, we follow the cycle of the Assembly,” Michael Egenton, the Chamber’s executive vice president, Government Relations, told NJBIZ this week. “That’s what makes the event so nice and exclusive — that we don’t do it every year.”

Among the criteria for the selection process are: voting records, bill sponsorships, committee votes, and a person’s overall history of supporting economic growth.


Egenton, who is marking 30 years with the Chamber this week, also noted another, more subjective component of the selection criteria, which goes beyond just the documented votes and quotes: True engagement and dialogue with the Chamber and business community broadly, including attending events and more.

The 2023 Legislative and Business Awards winners include:

  • Legislator of the YearSen. Joe Lagana, D-38th District
    Lagana has always been receptive to the Chamber in his role as Senate Labor Committee vice chair and for his work on the congestion pricing issue, according to the organization.
  • Legislator of the YearSen. Holly Schepisi, R-39th District
    Schepisi is recognized for always advocating the Chamber’s principles, such as lower property taxes and affordability; for reaching across the aisle and creating economic development partnerships; and for not being afraid to speak up on behalf of the business community.
  • Legislator of the YearAssembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District
    Coughlin was cited for his outreach to the Chamber on critical issues as well as his effort spearheading a package of small business bills.
  • Legislator of the Year Assembly Republican Leader John DiMaio, R-23rd District
    DiMaio was praised for his willingness to meet with the Chamber; his staunch support in repealing the corporate business tax surcharge; and advocating for things the business community supports, such as decreasing property taxes.
  • Business Advocate of the Year – Dennis Toft – member, CSG Law
    Toft is a renowned environmental lawyer who has been a huge Chamber supporter and helped to guide its advocacy on a litany of environmental and energy issues.
  • Business Advocate of the Year – Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti – commissioner, New Jersey Department of Transportation and board chair, NJ Transit
    On the transportation side, Gutierrez-Scaccetti has helped the Chamber countless times on a variety of issues including on federal infrastructure dollars, federal transportation funding, and more.
  • Business Advocate of the Year – Eric Brophy – deputy chief of staff for economic growth, Governor’s Office
    Brophy is recognized for his efforts to work with the Chamber following his promotion earlier this year to this key economic role within the governor’s office; he also played a lead role in getting legislation done to expedite the construction permit process.
  • Business Advocate of the Year – Chuck Richman – Governor’s Office
    Echoing similar sentiments as with Brophy, Richman helped on the construction permit legislation and has been instrumental in continuing to work collaboratively with the Chamber and have productive dialogue.
  • The New Jersey Chamber Alliance Partnership of the Year – Dawn Hunter – executive director, Greater Vineland Chamber of Commerce
    This newly created award follows a NJ Chamber initiative to bring regional chapters together post-pandemic. Hunter has been a consistent, dedicated and valued partner in the Chamber Alliance Coalition on a number of different legislative and regulatory issues – communicating those back with her general membership. Egenton says she is one of the great leaders of the regional Chambers in New Jersey.

Egenton notes that the personal component is not just reflected on the selection side — that the Chamber practices what they preach.

“We spent all summer visiting these individuals to let them know they won the award,” Egenton explained. “We could have easily called them. We could have texted them. We could have emailed them. But it just kind of takes out the personal component of it.”

The awards reception is one of the Chamber’s most prominent events.

The State of DE&I event, hosted by the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, featured notable executives such as AACCNJ founder, President and CEO John Harmon (left) and Chamber President and CEO Tom Bracken.

DEI efforts in NJ

An event organized by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey drew more than 300 attendees for an examination of issues surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion in New Jersey. Click here to read more.

“You know what I’m proud of, too? We have always picked two senators, two assembly people, two Republicans, two Democrats,” said Egenton. “So that way it shows the bipartisanship of our working relationships. We don’t just single out one group for one year. We look at the total two-year landscape and all the different components – how they voted on bills, but all the other participation and engagements that they do with us.”

As the interview closed, Egenton reflected on the rich history of the awards and the work of the Chamber as he comes up on that 30th anniversary.

“That’s why I’m here as long as I have been,” said Egenton. “It’s a great organization. I believe we do good work on behalf of our members.”

He stressed that the personal and relationship-oriented nature of the work the Chamber does is reflected particularly in this biannual event.

“Of all the events that we do – I put the Legislative and Business Awards in the top four or five events that we have,” said Egenton.

More information on the awardees and the reception is available here.


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