As someone who was a key part of the planning, Wes Mathews understands why Germany, Israel and India were the first three countries New Jersey officials emphasized in their efforts to expand their international economic development ties to the state.
He also knows where the state likely will look next: Central and South America and East Asia.
Mathews, who created and led the state’s first Office of International Trade at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority from March 2018 to October 2019, when Gov. Phil Murphy had trade missions to each of those nations, returns to the state next month as CEO of Choose New Jersey.
A career State Department official who has served in Washington and around the world — he was on loan to the EDA — Mathews said he’s eager to pick up where he left off.
“If you look at some of the goals that I’m starting to think about as I talk to our team at Choose and others, we definitely want to expand our international outreach,” he said. “I think we definitely want to take a close look at Central and South America and see what the opportunities are. It makes absolute sense when you look at where we’ve been in the last few years — and you look at who our top trading partners are and how we can leverage that into greater opportunity. That’s why we went to Germany, India, Israel.
“When you look at what’s next, East Asia — Japan, South Korea, Taiwan — all have sizable populations in New Jersey, so those could be opportunities that are ripe for us, too.”