Trenton business mogul Tracey Syphax is continuing to make the move from the block to the boardroom. The former ex-convict and current community activist and author was appointed to the Economic Development Committee for the city of Trenton in July.
As a new committee member, Syphax will be at the forefront of initiating dozens of economic development projects across the city and state—including business opportunities stemming from New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s New Opportunity Zone Program. A key piece of the legislation authored by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC) was incorporated into President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and signed into law in December. Under the Booker/Rice addendum, private sector investment vehicles that invest at least 90 percent of their capital in Opportunity Zones could receive financial incentives, including a temporary tax deferral for capital gains. New Jersey Opportunity Zones are located in dozens of municipalities across the state including many in mostly low-income rural and urban hubs, including Newark and Trenton.
Syphax, 55, a lifelong resident of Trenton, lauds any effort by legislators designed to increase minority and women owned business enterprise (M/WBE) growth and is delighted to be included in the process. “I am a 23-year entrepreneur in the city of Trenton who believes in the power of entrepreneurship, economics and community development,” Syphax said in a recent interview with TNJ.com. He is the owner of Capitol City Contracting and author of the bestselling book, From the Block to the Boardroom. The tell-all memoir chronicles his circuitous journey from being the biggest drug dealer in the city of Trenton, in prison, and ex convict to millionaire entrepreneur with business interests and real estate holdings across the state and region.
A self-described “urban philanthropist,” Syphax said a street hustler’s mentality is directly related to the mentality of a businessman. “A businessman is a certified hustler,” he said. “Even if you have never obtained any business documentation, opened a bank account or filled out an accounting sheet, you already have the skill set to run a business.”
Syphax has continued to espouse this message of the streets to thousands of other aspiring entrepreneurs. His messages of hope and inspiration to helping the formerly disenfranchised and prisoner re-entry initiatives echoes nationally. In 2014, he was recognized by former President Barack Obama with the White House Champion of Change award. In addition, in 2016 and 2017, Syphax was recognized as one of the 25 Most Influential African Americans in New Jersey by the South Jersey Journal newspaper.
Lastly, in a statement to the media earlier this month, following a Choose New Jersey Opportunity Funds seminar in Newark, Booker said, “Barriers stand between too many of our communities and the capital needed to generate economic growth and opportunity. Every community should have access to the resources needed to realize its full entrepreneurial potential.” To find out how to become an investor in Choose New Jersey Opportunity Funds program visit the organization’s website.