HANOVER TOWNSHIP, N.J.- On Thursday November 15, The Morris County Economic Development Corporation, a division of The Morris County Chamber of Commerce held the First Annual Innovation and Sustainability Forum with a focus on the Impact of Corporate Social Innovation.  An informative and interactive panel on health and wellness, community engagement and environmental sustainability was followed by networking, lunch and a keynote address from Executive Vice President of Global Health and President of the BD Foundation (Becton Dickinson and Co.) Gary M. Cohen.

Just prior to the panel discussion, Meghan Hunscher, the incoming board president, was introduced as she is replacing Paul Boudreau, who is retiring December 31. Hunscher has served as executive director of the MCEDC since 2016 and helped to increase membership and funding. She has experience in working with community and municipal leaders, not just in Morris County but across New Jersey. 

The panel moderator was Jeana Wirtenberg, Ph.D, Associate Professor for Professional Practice in the Management and Global Business Department, Rutgers Business School. She leads the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative for the Business School and is Associate Director of the new Rutgers Institute for Corporate Social Innovation (RICSI).  Jeana is lead editor and author for The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook: Building New Bridges, which was first published by Greenleaf in 2008, before the move towards sustainability had as much support as it does now. The second edition was published by Routledge. She opened the panel discussion with an inviting question, “What inspires you?” 

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The panel featured Jay Weisman, Founder and Principal, Legacy Philanthropy Group; Susie Schub, Founder, Caring Capital; Michele Blum, Benefits Director, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts; Joseph Jones, VP, Innovations Communications Americas, BASF Corporation; Lois Manzella Marchitto, Managing Director, Fitness Coaching, LLC; and Angela Ortiz, Energy and Sustainability Policy Manager, PSE&G. Their contributions painted a landscape of sustainability and innovation in the corporate arena. 

Ortiz started the conversation with corporate citizenship. She stated, “as a consequence of what we do, we can change how the people we serve live.” She suggests a complete change of the business model starting at the foundation and all the way up. Jones’ focus was the power of chemistry. Looking at population trends and the growth in urban communities and the driving force chemistry plays in development. “The one thing that drives all human beings is optimism,” he said.

Marchitto spoke about the need for corporations to make the health of their employees a priority. She noted the stress level of folks in the work force continues to rise and how addressing these issues will “shift the bottom line.” Schub expanded Marchitto’s point, stating “ companies' best assets are human capital.” She cited psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and that happy employees will make a company healthier.

Weisman says “work hard to capture the story,” with a future focus.  He suggests flipping the script from “charity” to an “investment” in community and employee environment.  Every member of the panel contributed to building a strong foundation to creating a more sustainable corporate community, both home and globally.

After a short break and lunch, Gary M. Cohen engaged the crowd with the foundations of corporate philanthropy.

 “Combine corporate social responsibility with advocacy and public policy, and shared value creation to develop a social innovation strategy,” Cohen said. He shared the newest developments at Becton Dickinson and the foundation’s reach around the globe. 

Exhibitors included Thomas Edison State University, Nomad, Joyce Honda, Greener by Design, Donnelly Energy, Caring Capital, Dewberry, Manager Academy, Roots and Wings, Edward Jones, First Environmental, Bohler, Autmow Robotic Mowing, Healthy Buildings and Verizon.

Platinum sponsor, Rutgers Business School, in conjunction with newly established Rutgers Institute for Corporate Social Innovation, (RICSI), and a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, exhibited the mission and vision of  RICSI , aiming to fill the gap between corporation’s role in a healthy sustainable society and the business leaders to help usher companies into that role. Wirtenberg had a couple of copies of the second edition of The Sustainable Enterprise FieldBook. She is optimistic about the future of corporate social innovation and shares her vision with Rutgers Business School students at both Newark and New Brunswick campuses. 

Gold sponsor Church and Dwight Co. Inc, were joined by silver sponsors Atlantic Stewardship Bank, Avison Young, Bowman Consulting, CBRE, CP Professional Services, Day Pitney LLP, Fortune Title Agency, Fulton Bank of New Jersey, Hance Construction, Inc, IBEW Local 102, Integra Realty Resources, Investors Bank, JLL, Langan, Mack-Cali, James E. Hanson, New Jersey Natural Gas, Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, Onyx, Parette Somien Architects, Phoenix Associates Construction Corporation, Porzio, Bromberg & Newman P.C. Attorneys At Law, PWC, The Rockefeller Group, Schenk Price Smith & King LLP, SESI Consulting Engineers, Sobel & Co. LLC, Soli Transparent Solutions, Stanbery Development Group, Star-Lo Electric, Structural Workshop LLC, Transwestern, Two River Community Bank, Valley National Bank, and Verizon

The inaugural event for the Morris County Economic Development Corporation was well attended. Event coordinator, Kathleen McMorrow, Principal; The Communications Optic, has another MCEDC  event scheduled on December 10, New Jersey: The Life Sciences Commercialization Hub to be held at the Park Avenue Club in Florham Park. 

About MCEDC 

The Morris County Economic Development Corporation, a division of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, is a partnership of business and government dedicated to growing the economy of Morris County, New Jersey through programs and services that result in business attraction, creation, retention and expansion.