The Monmouth County Workforce Investment Board has selected three community agencies to work with the out-of-school youth in the Asbury Park area.

The Board of Chosen Freeholders voted Dec. 22 to award $126,609 to The Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County; Interfaith Neighbors, and the Faith-Based Initiative Human Development Group.

These groups have programs that help youth become prepared to enter the workforce and advance from job to career. The out-of-school youth will be encouraged to pursue their high school diplomas.

Anyone visiting county facilities in Freehold may have noticed construction on the parking lots at our Human Services and Agriculture buildings. The white stanchions are actually solar canopies that will soon be generating electric power for Monmouth County.

They are part of a solar project at four county locations that will allow the county to reap the environmental and economic benefits of clean energy technology. Solar panels have also been installed on the rooftops of the Human Services building and the Monmouth County Library Headquarters in Manalapan. There is no cost to the county.  

The county’s solar program that aims to save $1.7 million in electricity costs over the next 15 years. Under a contract, the county is providing the sites and will purchase the electricity generated, and the Dobco Group of Wayne will maintain and accept electricity production responsibilities over the life of the contract.

Together, the solar panels at the four locations will generate 1,943,732 kilowatt hours per year over the 15-year period. They become operational Jan. 1.

The county’s Grow Monmouth Initiative is gaining momentum, too. In the last two months, the Monmouth County Department of Economic Development has responded to more than 50 requests for business assistance.

Grow Monmouth is a long-term communitywide initiative begun earlier this year to ensure the economic health of Monmouth County.

This initiative has three objectives: retain and grow businesses in Monmouth County; retain and create jobs in Monmouth County, and encourage the attraction of new businesses to Monmouth County.

Grow Monmouth is providing assistance to businesses to help maximize their potential for growth. A business-building toolkit has been developed that includes resources for competitive business information research, business to business and consumer mailing lists, survey capability, and Web site optimization.

A number of companies interested in relocating to Monmouth County already have utilized the county’s Economic Opportunity Mapping tool, a Geographic Information System-based device that shows zoning, highways, sewer service areas, flood plains and environmental constraints for each town in Monmouth County.

Using the tool, the county can zone in on specific sites. Prospective sites suitable for development can be determined easily and quickly using this tool.

In a related matter, the county Department of Economic Development has been invited by Choose NJ, the public/private partnership set up by Gov. Christie to attract business to New Jersey, to become members of a “kitchen cabinet” group to share ideas about growing jobs.

It’s no secret that what our economy needs right now is jobs. In order to create jobs, our businesses need all the help they can get. County government’s role is to facilitate job creation and business expansion.

This week the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office began dispatching for the Asbury Park Police Department, which will save the city money and put more police officers on the street. The 9-1-1 facility on Kozloski Road in Freehold already answers calls for 45 towns, Naval Weapons Station Earle and Fort Monmouth property, and dispatches for more than 10 police departments, 50 fire companies and 23 first aid squads.

 A number of other municipalities have also expressed interest in expanding this shared service opportunity.

Finally, the Board of Chosen Freeholders wishes everyone a safe happy holiday season.

* Thomas A. Arnone is a Monmouth County freeholder.