Now in its 125th year, the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce is one of the oldest business chambers in New Jersey. Despite its long and esteemed history, some of the organization’s board members have quipped that the chamber was, until recently, one of the “last of the good old boys’ clubs” in the state.
That era is now hopefully gone. The chambers’ 350-plus members recently elected Daryl Harrison Rand, president of Guttenberg-based Harrison Rand Advertising, to be its new chairperson. Rand is the first woman to be elected as chairperson and will now lead the organization with chamber president and CEO Maria Nieves, who assumed her post in November 2011.
Rand takes over the position from Joseph F. Scott, president and chief executive officer of Jersey City Medical Center, who was chair of the chamber for the past three years.
“There are two things I really want to do,” Rand told the Reporter during the chamber’s annual business meeting on Feb. 7. “I want to engage the membership as much as possible. I want everybody to have a voice. I want everybody to have a place at the table. I think women are really good at enveloping, and encouraging, and inviting. So, I want this organization to be a voice for the business community, but with the input of the members.”
‘I want everybody to have a voice. I want everybody to have a place at the table.’ – Daryl Harrison Rand
Change in the air
Rand takes over at a time when the organization is growing. Some members recalled recently that before Scott’s tenure as chairperson, the chamber was languishing, largely due to the recession. Scott is credited with expanding the organization, despite the bad economy.
“What you see reflected here today is not just a resurgence, but a rebirth of the chamber under Joe Scott,” said board member Dr. Glen E. Gabert, president of Hudson County Community College.
“What I saw was a unique opportunity to get the businesses of Hudson County to begin to really work together to make the community here something very, very special,” said Scott. “And there’s a huge opportunity for us to do even more.”
The organization’s annual business meeting was held at Puccini’s Restaurant in Jersey City, home to the 12th largest downtown in the United States, according to Nieves. Next month the chamber, in partnership with the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation, will host a trade mission to India to bolster investment and tourism between Hudson County and the South Asian nation.
Several municipalities in Hudson County – including Jersey City, Hoboken, and Secaucus – are home to large populations of Indian nationals who might be a bridge for such cooperation between South Asia and New Jersey.
“There are places to fit in, networking events, government affairs dialogues, celebratory galas, business summits, gatherings for young professionals, and international trade missions to expand business markets and showcase our assets [here in Hudson County],” Rand said in prepared remarks to the membership.
Robert Cotter, director of Jersey City’s Division of Planning, was the keynote speaker for the annual business meeting. Cotter gave an historical overview of how different eras of city planning have reshaped Jersey City into the landscape that it is today.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.