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Officials Weigh in on Grow NJ Program

TRENTON – Somerset County Freeholder Director Brian D. Levine was among the county and local officials who testified recently before the New Jersey Senate Select Committee on Economic Growth Strategies.Freeholder, Levine, Senate, Committee

He was joined by Somerset County Business Partnership President & CEO Mike Kerwin, Business Partnership Vice President John Maddocks and county Planning Director Walter Lane.

Somerset County Freeholders have worked hard at building partnerships that enable us to creatively address challenges and take advantage of opportunities,” Freeholder Levine told the Senate committee. “These partnerships are an effective and efficient investment of public funds to improve our communities. Our analysis of the Grow NJ program and its impact on our county is just one of many examples.

“As a matter of competitiveness, we support statewide business assistance programs that reduce the barriers to entry for companies wishing to create jobs and make capital investments in our communities,” he continued. “As you will hear from my colleagues, our recommendations for statewide business assistance programs are based on the principles of local land use planning; treating all 565 municipalities in our state fairly and equally; and basing business assistance on job creation and private sector economic investment.” Freeholder Levine referenced the county’s report titled, “The Suburban Disadvantage, The Grow NJ Program.”

“To our knowledge we are the only entity in our state to analyze the local impacts of Grow NJ on our communities,” he said.

Kerwin discussed the need of any future statewide business assistance program to have statewide business benefit.

“At the Business Partnership, we ensure the business community’s needs are represented,” he said. “Any business assistance program should continue to be linked directly to job creation and/or retention, and private-sector economic investment. It’s also something every municipality in New Jersey should be able to benefit from.

“Under the current program, nearly 500 of 565 New Jersey communities are greatly limited in their ability to utilize the Grow NJ program in efforts to attract new businesses,” Kerwin continued. “This provision should be eliminated. Doing so will enable our state, our communities, and businesses of all sizes to all achieve their full potential.”