PHOTO: on left is Mayor Gerald Scharffenberger, Ph.D., Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone and Freehold Deputy Director Serena DiMaso.
MIDDLETOWN, NJ – Monmouth County Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone hosted a Grow Monmouth roundtable at the Middletown Arts Center with Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger, Ph.D. and the Middletown Township Committeeon Tuesday night. Business owners and managers met with County and municipal officials to discuss ways for businesses to grow in the Township
“The roundtable is a chance to hear firsthand from companies what makes them successful and what we can do to assist them to grow and create jobs,” said Arnone, liaison to the County’s Division of Economic Development. “The feedback was terrific, and we know that Grow Monmouth helps our municipalities maintain a friendly relationship with the businesses in their community.”
The forum is part of the County’s Grow Monmouth initiative that was formed in 2011. The roundtables are intended for the Board of Chosen Freeholders to partner with the governing body of municipalities to encourage direct conversation with business owners to spur economic development throughout the County.
“The business turnout shows the success of Grow Monmouth and the confidence businesses have in local government and the County to listen to their issues and take action,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso. “Too often these discussions offer practical solutions that assist job creators, but nothing is put into place that shows government wants to help them succeed. The suggestion to change an ordinance to help cut through red tape when a company wants to expand was seriously considered and will help businesses grow. That is proof of the benefits of an open and honest discussion and supports the program’s goal of working with companies.”
Arnone held the first Grow Monmouth Business Roundtable discussion in 2014 as a way to help retain and grow businesses in Monmouth County. To date, Arnone has held more than 25 meetings throughout the county. He and Middletown officials held a previous roundtable discussion in May 2015.
According to Director Arnone, more than 20 local companies attended this session and talked about issues that affect their operations. “Middletown’s ordinance changed since our meeting last year, making it less cumbersome and more cost effective for a business to expand its facility,” commented Arnone. “This is a perfect example of how government and business can work together. This partnership benefits the towns, their residents, the County and business community.
Grow Monmouth is coordinated by the County’s Division of Economic Development. The division works with the Monmouth County Planning Board and towns creating overviews of municipalities that assist businesses as they navigate regulatory issues pertaining to specific sites. The office partners with federal and state departments to help companies access business retention and relocation assistance grants, low interest loans and evaluate key criteria in the site selection process.
“This gathering was an excellent opportunity for companies to speak with government officials about the challenges they face,” said Scharfenberger. “Middletown has diverse demographics, a highly skilled and educated work force and the highest population in the County. Our town is ideally situated to serve the needs of those in Middletown and throughout Monmouth County. The exchange of ideas was positive and helped identify areas we need to address in order to remain competitive.”