Freeholder H. James Polos
Chair, Public Works and Transportation Committee

County Convenes Stakeholders to Discuss Filling Empty Warehouse Space
with “Green” Businesses

Green Economic Development Zones Seen as Way
 to Boost Economic Growth


JUNE 8, 2009 – A team of local, county and state officials and representatives from the corporate and academic sectors began laying the groundwork on how to tap into the power of the emerging “Green” technology industry to help create jobs, fill vacant warehouse space and boost the County’s economic growth.

The Middlesex County Green Economic Development Zone Committee was established to study the financial and economic value of such zones, which would match existing vacant space with businesses that manufacture or sell environmentally friendly products and technologies, such as solar panels.

The Committee developed an action plan at a May 28 meeting and established subcommittees to study three key areas: business and site identification; education and curriculum development; and funding and financing, including government grants and incentives available to companies.

“In order for this effort to be a success, we need strong partnerships between the state, the county and our municipalities to pool all the necessary resources, financial support, and educational support to attract new businesses and assist incubator ventures to move into the state and stay in the County permanently,” said Freeholder H. James Polos, who has spearheaded many of the County’s environmentally friendly initiatives and who convened the meeting.

“After having this meeting, I am convinced we can open up good job opportunities for Middlesex County residents and strengthen economic development in the emerging Green technology market,” Polos said.

“We are very excited about Middlesex County and Freeholder Polos’ leadership in seeing the opportunity for economic development and the job growth that can be realized,” said Maureen Hassett, senior vice president for Governance and Public Information for the EDA. “Leadership at the local level is so essential in helping New Jersey to meet the goals of Gov. Corzine’s Energy Master Plan.”

The Governor’s plan calls for reducing energy consumption by least 20 percent by 2020 and to generate 30 percent of the State’s electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020.

Committee members see education as a key component to successfully fostering green technology growth.

“One of the best ways to attract business to the area is to show them you have an educated workforce ready to take on the jobs they need to fill,” said Freeholder Ronald G. Rios, chair of the County’s Public Health and Education Committee. “We are quite lucky to have Rutgers University, Middlesex County College and the County’s Vocational-Technical Schools, each of whom are developing programs and are as excited about this initiative as we are.”

Kevin Lyons, Executive Director of Procurement Services for Rutgers University and a well-known expert on purchasing environmentally friendly products, said it was good to begin real discussions on how to attract green businesses and how to promote sustainable business practices. Lyons represented Rutgers University President Richard L. McCormick at the meeting.

“Rutgers University needs to be involved in this effort because it is good for the whole town-gown concept, the idea that the university and the community that surrounds it get together to solve emerging issues,” Lyons said.

Joanne LaPerla-Morales, Middlesex County College President, said the college is excited by the initiative and has embraced the Green concept: “We are trying to reduce our carbon footprint and training companies in the area to do the same thing by not only training workers but by building a new classroom building that will be LEED silver certified.”

Attendees agreed that all levels of government need to work together to make the initiative a success.

“A collaborative effort puts forth a much stronger case when interacting with state agencies on these green issues,” said New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill. “What the County is doing gives us a stronger chance to get efforts going.”

“It was great for Woodbridge Township and Middlesex County, because everyone who can help move our economic development forward is in the room,” said Woodbridge Mayor John E. McCormac.
Also attending the meeting were representatives from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA), the State Department of Community Affairs, Office of Smart Growth (DCA) and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU).

“This was a good start,” said Ronald H. Reisman, manager of business outreach for the BPU. “The County was able to bring together all the stakeholders to come up with a plan to promote green economic development and green jobs that is consistent with the Governor’s Master Plan. The BPU would like to act as a resource for the group and to work with the utility companies and the energy saving programs they propose.”
Utilities represented at the meeting included Middlesex Water Company, Jersey Central Power and Light and Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G).