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

Senator Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic, speaks on the floor of the State Senate regarding the FY 2011 Budget.

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.

“The economic recession caused real hardship for residents across the state, but it hit this region extremely hard. We have to find ways to help create jobs and opportunity for our residents, who want nothing more than to get up in the morning and go to work,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic). “The members of this task force will come together to find ways to improve the economic conditions in the region. We will work diligently and 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.

“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. We will host meetings throughout the region and hear directly from residents about the challenges they are facing, as well as from local officials and businesses, so that we can determine how best to address them.”

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.