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New Jersey Institute of Technology President Joel Bloom and SobelCo Managing Member Alan Sobel were honored for their outstanding work on behalf of the business community at NJBIA’s recent Public Policy Forum.
Bloom, who began his career as an economist before becoming an educator, has served as NJIT’s president since 1988. During his tenure, Bloom has led NJIT’s rise to become a top national university with a $2.8 annual billion economic impact on New Jersey. Bloom also created the New Jersey Innovation Institute, an NJIT corporation that partners with industry and government in healthcare, biopharma, defense, and other key industries.
In presenting Bloom with the Leonard C. Johnson Award for public service during Tuesday’s online event, NJBIA President & CEO Michele Siekerka noted Bloom’s “extraordinary efforts to improve New Jersey’s economic vitality, streamline government and make businesses feel welcome.”
“His career includes legacy changes to the academic system that have had a profound impact on how curriculum is delivered, and workplace skills are developed,” Siekerka said.
Bloom is a “great collaborator,” Siekerka said, and pointed to his work as the immediate past chairman of the New Jersey Presidents Council, which represents public, private and community colleges and universities in New Jersey. In this role, Bloom welcomed the report of NJBIA’s Postsecondary Education Task Force, which recommended strategies to better prepare the state’s future workforce and build a dynamic brand for New Jersey higher education.
“Because of Dr. Bloom’s leadership, we were able to be a major part of the much-needed postsecondary education grant campaign that the council undertook as a result of NJBIA research,” Siekerka said.
Alan Sobel, the current president of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants, also received a Leonard C. Johnson Award for what Siekerka called “persistence and tenacity” in figuring out a way to collectively save New Jersey businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes after the 2107 federal tax reform law imposed a new lower cap on the existing deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) on individual returns.
“Alan knew there had to be a way to help S-Corps and pass-through entities to work around this devastating new tax law,” Siekerka said. “Alan went to work with model legislation that he shepherded through the Legislature and ultimately to the governor.”
The Pass-Through Business Alternative Income Tax Act signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Jan. 13 allows pass-through businesses to pay income taxes at the entity level instead of through personal tax returns. The law is revenue neutral for New Jersey, however, it helps business owners mitigate the negative impact of the federal change that capped the state and local tax deduction for individual returns, but not those of corporate entities.
The last potential sticking point was removed recently when the IRS finally approved the workaround, Siekerka said.
“Because of Alan’s early work, New Jersey was just about the first in line to be able to take advantage of this fix and now many of New Jersey’s pass-through entities will see much-needed tax relief thanks to his efforts,” Siekerka said.
In accepting the award, Sobel noted that the tax workaround legislation had been “a team effort” and thanked his colleagues at the NJ Society of CPAs, the sponsor of the legislation Senator Steve Oroho (R-24), Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3) and his staff, NJBIA, and other business organizations for their assistance.
“I’m glad I took action on an idea that I thought would make New Jersey more competitive from a tax perspective,” Sobel said. “I know I wasn’t the only one who came up with this idea… but I may have been the only one to write Gov.-elect Murphy at the time and other business leaders in the state to save business owners hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.
“The best part is that it doesn’t cost New Jersey a single penny in lost tax revenue,” Sobel said. “Let my experience be a lesson that if you are willing to bring those ideas and solutions to the attention of our business leaders and the (government) leaders in our state, then we can make change and progress in making New Jersey not just a better place to do business, but the best place to do business.”
To watch a short video of the awards presentation, go here.