The New Jersey Bankers Association annual economic forum on Friday will address a wide range of sectors beyond financial services — including health care, real estate, sports tourism and higher education.
Organizers feel half of the 500-plus attendees will be non-bankers seeking insight into the direction of the state and national economy in 2014.
"Banking is a vital part of the economy, and we want to get bankers interacting with some of the key industry groups in the state that help to drive the economy," John E. McWeeney Jr., president of NJBankers, said.
This is the third year of the forum – one that has grown in diversity each time.
"Each year we get more and more nonbankers in attendance, which is what we are striving for," McWeeney said. "Because the agenda is really not a banking agenda, it's a business agenda."
Speakers for the day-long event at The Palace in Somerset include Rutgers University President Robert Barchi; Wayne Hasenbalg, chief executive of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority and Ethan Harris, co-head of global economic research for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Marc Edenzon, chief executive of Special Olympics New Jersey, will preview the Special Olympics USA 2014 Games, which come to New Jersey in June with events at numerous venues across the state.
McWeeney pointed out that both the Super Bowl Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium and the Special Olympics June 14-21 will provide a significant economic stimulus to New Jersey.
The forum will conclude with an address from political consultant Frank Luntz, a pollster and Republican Party strategist.
A health care panel will hear from John Lawrence, president, Aetna NJ; Ken Kobylowski, commissioner of the state Department of Banking and Insurance, and attorney Eleanor D. Thompson of McCarter & English.
NJBankers Chairman Stewart E. McClure Jr., regional president of Lakeland Bank, will address the forum, and there will be a financial services panel discussion among Bob H. Doherty, New Jersey president for Bank of America; Kevin Cummings, chief executive of Investors Bank; James S. Vaccaro, chief executive of Manasquan Savings Bank and Anthony Giordano III, chief executive of Colonial American Bank.
The real estate panel will include Ryan Nee, regional manager and R. John Wilcox II, vice president, of Marcus & Millichap; Jonathan Schultz, co-founder of Onyx Equities; Eric Witmondt, chief executive of Woodmont Properties and Michael Allen Seeve, president of Mountain Development Corp.
McWeeney said Rutgers, which has acquired most of the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, "is really going to have a huge impact on the state's economy in a very positive way as they grow and expand."