Profile: He’s the Point Man for the New Jersey State Chamber Of Commerce

Tom Johnson | December 17, 2014 | Profiles
Two-decade veteran of Trenton’s state government scene lobbies lawmakers and agencies on behalf of business community

Michael Egenton, senior vice president for government relations for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce
Name: Michael Egenton

What he does: Senior vice president for government relations for the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce, he represents the business community in legislative and regulatory matters before the governor’s office, Legislature, and various state agencies. He has been there for 21 years.

Age: 50

Hometown: A native of Plainfield, but now lives in Voorhees with his wife and two children.

Background: A graduate of Seton Hall University, Egenton also has a master’s degree in public administration. Before joining the chamber, he was project director and principal author of “Modern Forms of Municipal Government,” a report published by the New Jersey State Commission on County and Municipal Government. He also worked at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

His focus: “The state chamber aims to create a business-friendly environment and to create jobs. We will support legislation that accomplishes that goal and oppose legislation that hinders that objective.’’

Biggest challenge: “What keeps you up at night is our members simply want to employ people and create jobs. They constantly vent to me there is more government intervention into their businesses. When they see legislation and regulations that will cost them more or create more paperwork, they get frustrated.’’

*What’s the current business climate in New Jersey?” Egenton believes it has gotten better, giving credit to Gov. Chris Christie and Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. “He has staved off bad legislation, which would have cost employers money.’’

What else needs to be done: Finding money to fix the state’s aging infrastructure, particularly its transportation system, which could run out of funding by the end of June. “Everyone agrees it has to be constitutionally dedicated. Infrastructure is the biggest touchpoint for the private sector.’’ Referring to congestion on New Jersey’s roads and mass-transit system, he said, “A stressed employee is not a productive employee.’’

How optimistic he is about the state’s prospects: “Being New Jersey born and bred, I am. We’ve got a great location; we have a great environment; and we have great academic institutions.’’

How the state can more aggressively promote economic development: “We would like to see the state pay a little more attention to the middle market and small-business community, such as family-owned business. It’s where a little more attention needs to be focused.’’

His frustrations about working in Trenton: “The government seems to work at its own pace. The old adage is that time is money. We have seen other states where we can benchmark where we can move at a faster pace.’’

How Trenton has changed in his more than two decades there: “There has been a positive change. I see more bipartisan cooperation. I see stronger relationships between members of both sides of the aisle as opposed to the interparty bickering that occurs.’’

How he relaxes: Spending time with his family and reading.