Gov. Phil Murphy appointed former Goldman Sachs executive Kevin Quinn to head the Economic Development Authority Friday.
“Reclaiming New Jersey’s status as an economic power requires a strong and focused EDA that will work tirelessly to implement the policies our economy needs to grow,” Murphy said. “Economic development is much more than providing tax incentives to a few big corporations, and requires investing in our diverse people, ideas, and businesses. With Kevin’s wealth of experience, I am confident that he will be able to advance our vision for a new economy in which companies flourish and workers prosper.”
The move represents the first big shift at the embattled authority, which Murphy has targeted in the months following the release of an audit that showed some firms that received tax incentive awards from the EDA may not have created the jobs required for their end of the bargain.
New Jersey Citizen Action, which announced Quinn’s appointment before Murphy, on Friday called for the rest of the Economic Development Authority’s board members to join now-former EDA Chairman Larry Downes and step down from their roles at the agency.
“For nearly a decade the EDA squandered billions of dollars in revenue through a mismanaged and corrupt corporate tax incentive program benefiting politically connected corporations, while lawmakers pleaded poverty when it came to funding vital social programs,” New Jersey Citizen Action Executive Director Phyllis Salowe-Kaye said. “The EDA’s new leadership needs to re-focus the agency on the needs of those who have suffered the most—the New Jersey taxpayers. To this end, we call on the rest of the current EDA board to resign so Chairman Quinn can begin work with a new slate.”
Downes resigned from the authority last week.
The audit has spawned more than one investigation into the abuses of the authority, including one led by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and an independent task force convened by Murphy.
In late March, Gulsen Kama, a former vice president at Jackson Hewitt, told the task force that the firm and Biggins Lacy Shapiro and Co., a Princeton-based site selection and tax incentives consulting firm, knowingly filed false applications for awards under EDA programs.