John Harmon Is Advocate for Trenton's
African American Business Community

1/09


Fresh out of Trenton Central High School, John Harmon passed the time away socializing at Mercer County Community College. "I used to hang out every day at the Student Center," recalls Harmon, today president and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Trenton African American Chamber of Commerce (MTAACC). "All the while there were Mercer staff members who encouraged me to think about going to college.

"I had no idea what college entailed. They not only provided encouragement, but each one took me by the hand and gave me the support I needed to complete the necessary paperwork to enter Mercer," he said.

Business was a natural course for study for Harmon, who had acquired an interest in entrepreneurship while watching his father run Harmon Trucking, Inc. in Trenton. He earned his associate degree in in Business Administration in 1981, and then transferred to Fairleigh Dickinson University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in Business Management in 1983.


John Harmon '81

Harmon was quickly recruited by the Bowery Savings Bank in New York City as a management trainee. Out of 150 applicants, he was one of 12 chosen, and the only African American, in the comprehensive one-year program that exposed trainees to all aspects of banking. After completing the program, he was assigned to the bank's real estate division, where he managed major mortgage loan transactions. Later he moved to Chemical Bank to manage third party loan originations for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. While there, he established Chemical Bank's Affordable Housing Loan Program.

When Harmon's division at Chemical moved to Long Island, he knew that his heart belonged in Trenton. In 1989, he founded Harmon Transfer, Inc., a company that transported food and produce throughout the Northeast United States and Canada. At that time, he was also tapped to lead the MTAACC. Under his guidance, MTAACC has grown its membership, established affiliations with the Mercer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and forged strategic partnerships to benefit African American businesses throughout New Jersey.

Harmon has been featured on television and radio and in several publications including the covers of Mercer Business Magazine and NJ Biz. He is the recipient of the 2002 New Jersey Transit Outstanding Service Award, the Regional Alliance for Small Contractors "Partnerships That Work" Award, the NAACP Freedom Award for Business, and a Humanitarian Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice.

He credits much of his success to the solid academic and career preparation that began at MCCC. "My professors were first-rate," Harmon said. "They really challenged me. They took complex subjects and simplified things. Had it not been for the folks at Mercer who encouraged me to go to college, who knows, I might not have gone. Because of them, I am where I am today. I wanted to give all who have helped me a return on their investment."

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