Van Drew Measure Creating ‘1st District Economic Development Task Force’ Advances

Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May and Cumberland) speaks at a news conference to Urge Horizon and Children’s Hospital to Come to Agreement.

Would Charge Task Force With Fostering Job-Creation, Economic Activity

 TRENTON – A resolution sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew to create a task force to study and recommend ways to improve economic conditions in the 1st Legislative District, one of the most economically depressed regions in New Jersey, was approved today by the Senate Economic Growth Committee.

“The economic recession produced a devastating blow to an already fragile economy in this region of the state. We have to find ways to improve economic conditions and we have to do that together,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic). “This task force will find ways to incentivize economic development and create jobs and opportunities for our residents. We will leave no stone unturned in this process.”

The measure (SR-71) is an effort by the senator to improve the economic conditions in the Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic County area made worse by the recession. The region faces the highest rates of joblessness in the state, the lowest per capita income rates in the state and extremely high rates of poverty. Residents in the three-county area also experience high incidents of teenage pregnancy, childhood obesity, infant mortality, domestic violence, gang violence, alcoholism, and drug abuse, according to statistics.

“Our residents are trying desperately to find work, so they can earn a decent living and take care of their families. Unfortunately, the economy is faltering and too many people are without jobs and are struggling financially,” said Senator Van Drew. “We owe it to them to come together to find real, tangible ways to create good-paying jobs and economic development in the region. This task force will include a host of officials working on the ground and at the state level, the presidents of our local colleges as well as a representative from the Christie Administration to do that.”

The 11-member task force will bring together freeholders, community college presidents, economic development experts and state officials – the Executive Director of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, or a designee – to drill down on some of the most pressing issues facing residents in the 1st Legislative District. The panel will be charged with identifying methods, policies, regulations, incentives, and tools to foster economic activity and create jobs. It would hold, at a minimum, two meetings or public hearings each in Cape MayCounty and CumberlandCounty, but could organize and hold additional meetings or hearings as it deemed necessary. The task force would submit a report with its findings and recommendations to legislative leaders within 18 months of the date it organizes.

The resolution was approved by a vote of 5-0. It now heads to the full Senate for a vote.