Warren County Holds Economic Development Forum for Municipalities
(WHITE TOWNSHIP, NJ, November 13, 2014) - The Warren County Economic Development Advisory Council (WCEDAC) is helping municipalities with the tools they need to attract new businesses.
Members of the county economic board held a forum for municipal officials November 13 where they presented a system for introducing and tracking economic development opportunities within each municipality to prospective buyers and companies.
Of the County’s 22 municipalities, 14 were represented with 32 local officials – mayors and members of the governing bodies and local economic development boards – attending.
“This is a great start to working with the municipalities,” said Freeholder Jason Sarnoski, who convinced his colleagues to establish the county EDAC three years ago and serves as the freeholder liaison to the group. “This is something we want to continue doing, maybe semi-annually, to continue the discussion about economic development in Warren County,” he added.
Allamuchy Mayor Betty Schultheis, who chairs WCEDAC, said the group previously requested that the Freeholder Board ask all municipalities to establish their own local Economic Development Advisory Committee so that local officials could coordinate with the county to create positive economic growth in Warren.
Each municipality attending the forum received a packet of information that included a municipal EDAC description, names of current WCEDAC members, the process to be followed when a municipality receives a request from a would-be business client, and "opportunity tracking" forms. Each municipality also received their own specific demographic information, as well as information on the state and Warren County, to enable them to better promote their area and answer questions from businesses that are looking for a place to locate.
Municipalities need to be ready to provide information to help prospective businesses see the advantages to locating there, but local officials also need to show they are open to attracting companies, Schultheis said. “Many times the land use board and the governing body aren’t on the same page,” she remarked, explaining that municipalities need to discuss what types of businesses they are open to and be ready to put out the welcome mat.
Schultheis said she thought the meeting with municipal officials “went very well,” noting, “What was exciting is they want to meet multiple times a year.” She praised the freeholders for “recognizing that this was a need” and stepping up county economic development efforts. Sarnoski agreed, noting, “We’ll continue to put the spotlight on economic development in the county and in the municipalities.” The freeholder added the county is planning to list contact information for all municipal economic development boards on each town or township’s page in the annual Warren County Official Directory as a way to highlight municipal efforts.
Since its formation in late 2011, the WCEDAC has organized a business resources seminar to promote the available state resources for business growth, and sponsored several summits highlighting the business climate and economic opportunities in Warren County. It also has been working on initiatives including an effort to attract businesses that would enhance Warren’s agricultural economy.
In addition to Schultheis and Sarnoski, members of the WCEDAC are Scott Anderson, Mitchell Jones, Andrea Kirchuk, Chris Maier, Hannah Massaquoi, Blairstown Mayor Herman Shoemaker, Tammiesha Smith, Belvidere Mayor Linda Stettler, and Phillipsburg Councilman Todd Tersigni.
Warren County departmental staff members who assist with various WCEDAC projects are Human Services Director Karen Kubert, Planning Director David Dech, and Public Information Director Art Charlton.
Information about WCEDAC is available on the Warren County website, www.co.warren.nj.us/edac.html, or by calling the Public Information Department at 908-475-6580.