New demographic tool to aid businesses is unveiled – and it’s free

FREEHOLD, NJ – A new tool that provides businesses with an array of demographic information within a certain radius was unveiled last week at the first meeting of the Grow Monmouth Advisory Committee, which is comprised of  about 40 business, academic and municipal representatives.

The Business Analyst Tool is an enhancement to the Monmouth County’s Economic Opportunity Mapping program, which is a Geographic Information System-based tool that identifies zoning, highways, sewer service areas, flood plains and environmental constraints for each town in Monmouth County. The new tool provides an array of demographic information as well.

“It is a sophisticated research tool,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Thomas A. Arnone, who is spearheading the county’s Grow Monmouth initiative with the Department of Economic Development. “It is for people who are thinking about relocating their business or bringing new business in.” 

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Freeholder Deputy Director Thomas A. Arnone (standing) addresses the members of the Grow Monmouth Advisory Committee during the group's first meeting held last week at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters in Manalapan. 

In addition to providing such information as age, gender and educational backgrounds of potential customers, the Business Analyst Tool will supply drive times between two points and data about other businesses located within the targeted area. All Grow Monmouth business tools are free.

Grow Monmouth is a long-term, communitywide initiative with a singular goal – to ensure the economic health of Monmouth County. Like the New Jersey Business Action Center established by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration and overseen by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, its objectives will include retaining and growing businesses, creating jobs and attracting new businesses.

The Grow Monmouth Advisory Committee was formed to gather input from a variety of key sectors that include business, education, nonprofits, community organizations, state and local government. Together, a strategic plan will be developed that will outline goals and the means of achieving them.   

Arnone and Economic Development staff have made more than 50 presentations around the county to identify and recruit partners to help make growing a business in Monmouth County easier.

“Since I becoming a freeholder, I wanted to work with municipalities to help them streamline their processes that will make opening and growing a business simpler,” Arnone said. “For businesses to relocate, grow and prosper we need to make the approval process easier. That’s what our presentations have been all about – making it easier for businesses to operate. If we do that, the jobs will follow.”

Also at the meeting, the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) presented its Start Smart Energy Plan, which is available to municipalities as well as businesses.

Using the Start Smart Energy Plan, businesses or towns can request the BPU to conduct a free energy audit of their facilities. In addition, for any recommendations that will improve energy efficiency, the BPU will pay up to 70 percent of the cost.

“This initial meeting was a huge success, and I want to thank committee members for their participation and commitment to making Monmouth County a better place for business development,” Arnone said. “It’s not just about attracting new businesses; we must also keep the ones we have.”