LAMBERTVILLE… Caren Franzini, who served as Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) for over 18 years, died Wednesday at her home in Lambertville, N.J. She was 57.
Ms. Franzini headed the NJEDA from January 1994 to October 2012, working with seven consecutive New Jersey governors. The NJEDA provides financing to small and mid-sized businesses, administering tax incentives to retain and grow jobs, revitalizing communities through redevelopment initiatives, and supporting entrepreneurial development. She joined the NJEDA in March 1991 as Deputy Director. After her tenure at the NJEDA, Ms. Franzini became President of Franzini Consulting, working with businesses and economic development agencies.
Ms. Franzini has been widely recognized for her contributions to business growth and economic development in the state. She is a past recipient of the New Jersey Chapter of NAIOP’s Industry Service Award, the New Jersey Technology Council’s John H. Martinson Technology Supporter Award, the New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s Paul L. Troast Award for her commitment to improving the state’s economy, and the Wharton Club of New York’s Joseph Wharton Award for Social Impact. She has also been honored with the Pinnacle Business Advocate Award from the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey, the EDANJ’s Franklin-Maddocks Award for Excellence in Economic Development, the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Southern New Jersey Development Council, and Plan Smart NJ’s Outstanding Leadership & Economic Development Achievement Awards. She was inducted into the New Jersey High Tech Hall of Fame in 2006 for her many contributions to the State’s technology industry.
During her distinguished career, Ms. Franzini served as Chair of the State’s Urban Enterprise Zone Authority, Vice Chair of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority and President of the Corporation for Business Assistance in New Jersey. She was also a member of the Board of Directors and the past president of the National Council of Development Finance Agencies, and sat on numerous boards: the New Jersey Technology Council, the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP), the New Jersey Alliance for Action, Inc., the Southern New Jersey Development Council, and the Aviation Research Technology Park. She was an ex officio Board member of the New Jersey State Employment and Training Commission, and a Member of the State Planning Commission. Most recently, she served on the Boards of NJM Insurance, the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, Greater Trenton, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation, NJ Future, and the New Jersey Community Development Corporation.
Prior to joining the EDA, Ms. Franzini was an Assistant State Treasurer with the New Jersey Department of the Treasury. Before that, she was employed in the Finance Division of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and with Public Financial Management.
Caren Sue Raphel was born Feb. 17, 1959 in Atlantic City, N. J. Her parents, Ruth and Murray Raphel, were the owners with her aunt and uncle, Shirley and Milton Gordon, of Gordon’s Alley, New Jersey’s first pedestrian mall, located in downtown Atlantic City. Ms. Franzini received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Business Administration degree in Finance and Public Management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Ms. Franzini is survived by her husband, John Franzini, three children, Anna, Sam, and Sarah, her parents, sister Paula Crowley, and brother Neil Raphel.
Funeral services are Friday, January 27 at 1PM at Adath Israel Congregation, 1958 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville, NJ. A private burial service will follow at Mount Hope Cemetery in Lambertville, NJ. Following the synagogue service and again on Saturday at 6PM, relatives and friends are invited to a memorial gathering at Kehilat HaNahar, 85 W Mechanic Street, New Hope, PA. The family respectfully requests memorial contributions to the New Jersey Tree Foundation, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, or Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County.