Jim Kennedy, a chief visionary of the city’s Arts District, who served as Rahway’s mayor for 20 years, sees the effort as a ‘stimulus model for small towns that have lost retail revenue’. Kennedy says artistic endeavors      like Hamilton Stage help boost commerce and allow struggling downtowns to reinvent themselves.

Our Team

James J. Kennedy — Principal

Jim Kennedy understands the intricacies and challenges of Urban Renewal. As the owner of Kennedy Jewelers in downtown Rahway in the 1970s, Kennedy saw the inevitable “handwriting on the wall”. He knew that the only way to change the writing … was to build a new wall. In 1978, he joined other city merchants to create the Rahway Chamber of Commerce, where he served as President from 1980 to 1982 and again from 1988 to 1990.


In 1990, Kennedy was elected to his first of five consecutive terms as Mayor of Rahway. From his first day in office, economic development was a hallmark of the Kennedy administration. He created the Rahway Center Partnership to revitalize the city’s central business district. With the cooperation and support of local businesses and civic leaders, the city received a new, award-winning $15 million NJ Transit train station and plaza in 2001.


He also moved to restore the city’s fiscal stability, completely overhauling municipal services and expenses. By reducing expenditures and working to increase revenues that were not dependent on property taxes, Rahway has enjoyed one of New Jersey’s most stable property tax rates since 1991. Looking toward the 21st-century economy, Kennedy laid the groundwork in the mid-1990s to create New Jersey’s first research and development zone. This enabled the Rahway-based pharmaceutical giant Merck to focus on longterm growth and planning; Merck’s presence has significantly increased the local tax base and added thousands of new jobs in Rahway.


Kennedy played a central role in developing the 11-acre parcel of land behind City Hall that had lain dormant for nearly three decades. In 1999 the new Rahway Recreation center was born, and in 2000, the city broke ground on a $15 million library and office complex adjacent to the Recreation Center. In early 2001, Kennedy created the Rahway Redevelopment Agency to facilitate and promote new business investment throughout the city.


In his fifth and last term in office, Kennedy focused on utilizing the Cultural Arts as an Economic & Development Stimulus. He formed the Rahway Art’s District, a collection of arts-inspired organizations and businesses, to create a hub of ideas, inspiration and activity. He volunteered his time and stepped in as interim Executive Director of the Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC) leading the agency to a sound footing and bringing world-renowned talent to Rahway. UCPAC has received considerable support from major foundations and corporations, including the prestigious National Endowment of the Arts.


In June, 2012, the new Hamilton Stage opened its doors as a world-class, 199-seat performance facility for innovative dance, music and theatre. A prime tenant is the American Theatre Group that hosts the New American Reading Series featuring three-time Academy Award, four-time Grammy Award, and six-time Tony Award recipient Steven Schwartz as Artistic Advisor.


Having led the municipal team on privatizing the Rahway Water Utility, Kennedy has participated as a panelist on privatization at the World Water Forum in Mexico City, Istanbul, and Marseille. He has served on the Union County Utilities Authority since 1990 and has led as chairman for two terms and was instrumental in guiding it to privatization. He served on the Rahway Geriatrics Center and helped implement its privatization.


After leaving the Mayor’s office in December, 2010, Kennedy turned his efforts back to his volunteer roots. He is also a Commissioner on the Rahway Senior Housing Corporation as well as a member of the Board of Directors of RWJ Rahway Hospital.


Kennedy formed Skye Consulting in 2006, focusing its direction on community development, world water issues and cultural arts.


And most importantly: helping clients understand that the Tomorrow they’re looking to build starts with the planning they do Today.


To contact Jim directly, please click here.