County Wins Grant, Plans To Grow Tech Jobs

From left to right, Monmouth County Freeholders Thomas A. Arnone, Lillian G. Burry, Gerry P. Scharfenberger, Ph.D., Susan M. Kiley and Patrick Impreveduto. (Photo courtesy Monmouth County)

FREEHOLD – With the help of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA), Monmouth County was recently awarded a hefty $100,000 grant as part of the Innovation Challenge.

The Innovation Challenge is piloted by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). Monmouth County plans to use its newly acquired funds to develop technology jobs throughout the county. 

“Monmouth County is seeking to facilitate the growth of an emerging technology cluster at Fort Monmouth, which already houses the headquarters of three technology companies, currently employing over 1,000 people on the former Fort,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Lillian G. Burry, the liaison to the Division of Planning and a member of FMERA.

“We are thrilled to receive this important grant, which will help us attract more technology firms that will employ our able Monmouth County workforce while enriching the local economy,” said Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone, the liaison to the County’s economic development division.

FMERA is currently preparing to release a Request for Offers to Purchase (RFOTP) on the McAfee Center parcel, a space on which they believe the development of a mixed-use, technology campus would be best suited.

The McAfee Center building is approximately 89,492 square feet. There are eight raised-floor dry labs, an anechoic chamber and a 16-foot loading dock. The McAfee Center parcel also houses nine additional buildings, three of which are in good condition for reuse, according to the county.

FMERA showcased the property to the technology and real estate marketplaces back in July. The RFOTP is expected to be released in early 2019.

“Fort Monmouth has a rich history in technology and innovation and we are looking to carry on that legacy,” said FMERA Board Chairman Dr. Robert Lucky. “The development of a technology campus is both consistent with the Fort Monmouth Reuse and Redevelopment Plan and complementary to the growing technology community at Fort Monmouth. We’re confident that this study will help us identify the tech sub-sector that is most appropriate for the McAfee Center.”

The Innovation Challenge was launched by the NJEDA in July 2018. The challenge offers individual communities or teams of municipalities the “opportunity to compete for planning awards of up to $100,000 to catalyze the growth of local ecosystems throughout New Jersey,” according to NJDEA.

Proposals were scored on:

  • The strength of the established partnership
  • The commitment of additional funding from partners
  • The presence and strength of a defined collaborative stakeholder engagement process
  • Evidence of the plan’s ability to grow the number of small businesses/attract employers
  • Planning for solutions based on the use of new and emerging technologies
  • The ability to execute the project or viability of the planning project.
  • Municipal Revitalization Index ranking

The NJEDA will award $100,000 to each of the following: City of Bridgeton, the City of New Brunswick, Passaic County, the City of Trenton, Atlantic County, the City of Atlantic City, Camden County, Union Township, and Monmouth County.