This story was originally reported for our content partner, GlobeSt.com.
TRENTON, NJ—(SBN)—George D. Sowa, a former senior executive of Brandywine Realty Trust who most recently helped steer Brandywine’s redevelopment efforts in the Gateway District of Camden, NJ, has been named chief executive officer of Greater Trenton, an independent nonprofit organization formed last fall to advance economic revitalization in the state’s capital city.
Sowa, a lifelong native of Trenton, was introduced to community and business leaders at a press briefing Monday at the New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance campus in Ewing Township, NJ.
“Finding the right CEO was the first order of business for our Board,” says NJM president & CEO Bernie Flynn, who co-chairs Greater Trenton with Caren Franzini, the former longtime CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. “Along with a depth of experience, credibility and relationships, we wanted someone with a track record of proven results in the economic development space and George is an outstanding fit.”
In his role as CEO, Sowa will assemble a supporting staff and implement the organization’s key objectives that include developing a long-term strategic plan and working collaboratively with public and private partners to spur development opportunities and bring new investments to the greater Trenton area, with an emphasis on the downtown core.
In an exclusive interview with StateBroadcastNews.com, Sowa says it was the right time in his career to make the change. (You can watch a video news report about Sowa’s appointment in the player below.)
“It’s important to make sure that we get new opportunities created for the residents of the city and to actually get people to feel good about being in the city,” says Sowa. “We’re going to be meeting with a lot of the residents and community groups to make sure we understand issues, but also when the right opportunities come along, that we make sure they’re in the right spots in the city, because great opportunities in the wrong locations doesn’t really build the community, and we need to do that.”
The transportation infrastructure in Trenton will help position the city as an attractive hub for business, Sowa says. Rail lines serving New York, Philadelphia and Washington operated by Amtrak, NJ Transit, and SEPTA combine with the River Line light rail system in Trenton, and the Trenton-Mercer Airport provides air travel options as well. “We’ve got an infrastructure that other cities can only dream of,” he says.
Sowa’s family has deep roots in Trenton spanning over 100 years and he takes the helm of Greater Trenton after more than eighteen years at Brandywine.
Most recently, Sowa served as Brandywine’s executive vice president and senior managing director for New Jersey and Delaware, where he was responsible for overseeing all aspects of the company’s regional operations and development.
In Camden, Sowa led Brandywine’s selection by Campbell Soup Company to be developer for Camden’s Gateway District, a 1.5 million square foot mixed use master-planned development. Sowa has had substantial experience in urban development projects. Before joining Brandywine, Sowa was involved in two new development projects totaling over $100 million in New Brunswick, NJ.
“I have spent my entire life in the greater Trenton area and know its rich history. And having devoted my professional career to real estate development, I know its great potential to have a positive impact on the community and people’s lives. My grandparents settled in Trenton, my mother graduated from Trenton Central High School, and I was born here. So I view the opportunity to make a difference by being apart of the revitalization of this great city as a personal honor and privilege,” Sowa says.
“Successful economic development projects occur when there is collaboration between the private sector, community organizations and our city, state and county governments. George understands how important it is to build relationships and over the years has developed a very effective approach,” says Franzini. “He is familiar with this area and has been instrumental in bringing successful economic development projects to Camden and New Brunswick. We’re confident he’ll bring that same focus and drive to his role as CEO of Greater Trenton.”
Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson also offered his strong support of Sowa’s selection. “We are on a 7.2 square mile stamp of land, not a lot of room, so it’s important to bring the right mix of work, development and jobs,” Jackson told GlobeSt.com exclusively. “We believe ‘eds and meds’ and light manufacturing are working for us. I don’t want to put him in a box, I want him to bring what he believes is best for us. That’s why we selected him.”
Before joining Brandywine, Sowa was director of development for Keating Development Company and director of development/operations for Linpro/LCOR, a real estate investment and development company, specializing in complex urban development projects. Sowa serves on the national board and executive committee of the Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP), and he is a past President of NAIOP’s New Jersey chapter. He is also vice chairman of the board of the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey. He is a graduate of Cornell University.
Greater Trenton’s Board of Directors includes NJM Insurance Group, Bristol Myers Squibb, Princeton Area Community Foundation, Investors Bank, TD Bank, Capital Health, PSEG, Thomas Edison State University, Wells Fargo Bank, Princeton University, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The organization’s Board of Directors has made a multi-year commitment to fund the initiative.