Press Release
Senator Tom Kean, Jr. Senator Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21)
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Contact: Senate Republicans / (609) 847-3600
December 5, 2016
Kean Bill to Strengthen Partnerships Between Higher Ed and Businesses Passes Senate Panel

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UPDATE: Gov. Christie Signed S-354 into Law on February 10, 2017

Legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean to create the New Jersey Commission on Higher education and Business Partnerships was advanced by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Sen. Kean’s bill creates a commission to facilitate partnerships between leaders in higher education and the business community. (iStock)

“New Jersey’s institutions of higher learning and its business community already produce incredible opportunities for economic development activity,” Senator Kean said. “Just think of what they can do if we can create a direct line of communication and cooperation between both parties.”

Sen. Kean’s bill, S-354, establishes a commission designed to support these partnerships and maximize higher education’s role in advancing economic and workforce development. Along with the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, the Secretary of Higher Education, the Chief Executive Officer of the Economic Development Authority, the Governor would appoint an additional 12 members. The Senate President, Assembly Speaker, Senate Minority Leader and Assembly Minority Leader each appoint one member. The commission’s responsibilities would include:

  • Identify and support research opportunities at NJ academic institutions that can advance economic development and employment.
  • Identify and support opportunities for partnerships between institutions of higher education and biotech companies to accelerate the commercialization of new therapies, drugs, and technologies.
  • Make recommendations on improving the role of four-year higher education institutions, county colleges and vocational school districts in advancing the needs of the workforce.

The commission would employ an executive director and other personnel as needed. The Commission’s executive director will also serve as the ombudsman and be the direct contact for helping to forge these partnerships in the State.

The legislation has received the support of NJBIA, NJ Chamber of Commerce, as well as multiple organizations representing New Jersey’s four-year higher education institutions and community colleges.

An identical version of S-354 has passed the Assembly. The legislation now awaits a vote by the full Senate. If signed into law, the bill would take effect immediately.


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