Originally Published in the Star Ledger -Newark, New Jersey
Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Economic Development Corp. gets New Leader
County's affirmative action director to take charge as two offices merge

    Essex County will combine its affirmative action and economic development offices into one department, and Balozi Harvey the county's affirmative action director will head it.
     Harvey, former director of a division of a New York state non-profit agency that successfully promoted international trade and tourism, said he wants to apply his experience to Essex County. "
     "We want to talk about tourism. We don't want you to come into Newark Airport and the first thing you do is want to go to New York City," Harvey said.
     County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo announced Harvey's appointment yesterday at a news conference in his office in the Hall of Records.
     The Economic Development Corp. was founded in 1982 as a nonprofit agency to give county businesses financing and technical assistance. The department has been one of the county's quietest departments, rarely drawing publicity to itself or advertising the thousands of dollars available in small-business loans.
     DiVincenzo, who recently completed his first year in office, said the previous administration "did not take the department seriously."
     Harvey could give the EDC a spark and the esteem that it needs, DiVincenzo said. Harvey will replace Barry Rubin, who is now confidential aide to the director in the county Department of Citizen Services.
     Yesterday, several friends and colleagues praised Harvey's commitment to diversity and his knowledge of international affairs, business and economic development.
    "If we would go across the continent, the respect would be there. If we were to go to the U.N. (United Nations), the respect would be there," said Calvin West, executive director of Gov. James E. McGreevey's North Jersey Office.
    From 1982 to 1995, Harvey worked as the executive director of the third World Trade Institute of the Harlem Urban Development Corp., a New York State nonprofit agency. He later created his own firm to consult corporations on international trade and affairs.
    Harvey who lives in South Orange and is married to East Orange Municipal Judge Karium Hill-Harvey, is proficient in Arabic, Chinese, Swahili and Zulu.
    Harvey used yesterday's news conference as a platform to discuss his plans for economic development and to reflect on how he will use his promotion to give back to his ancestors.
    Often described as an Africanist, Harvey is known for his distinctive African garb, beard and words of wisdom. He said he has traveled to Africa more than 200 times.
     His late father - a lieutenant in Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association- "never went to Africa," Harvey said."Never even got off the porch in East Orange, but i did it for all of them."
    While acknowledging his beliefs, Harvey stressed that the economic development /affirmative action office would be about inclusion. "I promise that I will always put Essex County's interest first over my personal interest," he said.
     In addition to promoting tourism and diversity, Harvey said in an interview that he also wants to empower small businesses. "The only thing holding them back is not dreams and desires but money," he said.
    The Economic Development Corp. lends money to small business owners. There are currently 12 active loans given to 10 businesses in Belleville, Bloomfield, Irvington, Newark, Orange and West Orange.
    "It's throughout the county. It's small mom-and-pops. It's industrial companies," said Craig Lombardi, a financial analyst for the EDC.
     Most business owners are referred to the EDC through their local towns or banks, he said. But more businesses might participate if the agency had more publicity, Lombardi said.
    "Those are the things that should be happening," DiVincenzo said.
    The EDC will combine its efforts with the Essex County Improvement Authority, the county's bonding agency, he said.
    James Paganelli, the ECIA director, said he looked forward to working with Harvey. "I'm just going to sit back and learn," he said.