Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 5
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
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“Mr. Cohen Goes to Washington” as Holt Invites Local Businessman to Attend State of the Union

Ellen Gilbert

“As I continue to meet with New Jersey families, it’s clear that our first priority is creating jobs, and we can do that best by investing in innovative research and supporting small businesses,” observed Congressman Rush Holt (D-12) on the eve of the president’s State of the Union address last week. As evidence of this belief, Mr. Holt chose Marshall J. Cohen, president and CEO of Princeton Power Systems (PPS), as his only guest to hear the speech.

The experience of hearing a president’s State of Union address up close and personal was “very exciting,” for Mr. Cohen. “I enjoy history and I enjoyed being there. There was lots of pageantry.”

“Whatever your political leanings, it’s important to hear the president,” he observed. “I thought he did a good job. He said to both parties, ‘It’s time to get something done.’”

Mr. Cohen said that he met Mr. Holt when the Congressman was still working at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. Mr. Cohen and his wife played tennis at the same Washington Road facility as Mr. Holt, and “we sat around and chatted after the games.” Later, as a Congressman, Mr. Holt visited Mr. Cohen’s current company.

PPS designs and manufactures advanced power electronics. Using the $2.8 million it received in economic recovery funding to expand its smart grid technology efforts, PPS created a dozen new jobs. They say that they are on the path to creating 275 new jobs by 2015.

“PPS turned innovative research into sustainable jobs that are being created at a fast clip,” said Mr. Holt. “These are jobs that contribute to an economic recovery, while making our communities more energy efficient.”

“He’s probably the most knowledgeable member of Congress when it comes to energy matters,” said Mr. Cohen of Mr. Holt. “I thought he should have been Secretary of Energy, although Steven Chu is very good.”

“When he comes here, it’s a technical discussion, not just someone nodding up and down,” observed Mr. Cohen. “We don’t have Washington lobbyists and he helps us identify programs that can help us get the job done. We’ve been working with him for years.”

It was during one such visit that Mr. Holt invited Mr. Cohen to come to Washington for the State of the Union address. “I was honored that he thought enough of Princeton Power, and because he brought only one guest,” said Mr. Cohen.

“There was a lot of theater,” Mr. Cohen reported of the goings-on surrounding the delivery of the State Union address in the Capitol building last week. “The Democrats stood up for every sentence. The Republicans didn’t to want to agree with anything. You could see them looking at each other and deciding if something was worth standing up for. There was a lot of gamesmanship”

“The president was very good in making the point that whether or not you believe in global warming, it is important to believe in alternative energy sources. I hope that will have a positive impact on our work,” said Mr. Cohen, noting that at this point the area is largely subsidy and incentive-driven.

After the conclusion of the speech, Mr. Holt introduced Mr. Cohen to President and Mrs. Obama. “The president greeted me and asked about my company,” reported Mr. Cohen.

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