Development Success Highlighted in Strategic Plan Update

The Cumberland County Improvement Authority’s recently reported its economic development progress as well as future goals to advance the County’s growth. The organization’s Strategic Plan was updated last month to reflect current and upcoming initiatives and ensure that business growth and job creation move forward in the most efficient ways.

Improvement Authority officials say the new plan, an inventory of important initiatives, can be accomplished with the support of all partners and stakeholders.  A review of goals met to date, was presented to the Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders last month and adopted by the Cumberland County Economic Development Board.

“This plan is made up of goals and strategies aimed not only at new companies, but at maintaining and expanding opportunities for businesses and industries already here to maintain the existing job base and opportunities,” said Gerard Velazquez, President and CEO of the Cumberland County Improvement Authority (CCIA).

Velazquez says the explosive increase in development and jobs, that necessitated the new plan directed by the CCIA, justifies the Board of Chosen Freeholders decision to transition the County’s economic development initiatives to the Improvement Authority just a few years ago.

“In the seven years since the distribution of the County’s 2020 Strategic Plan, there have been substantial economic development changes in the county, mostly pertaining to our renewed focus on project development,” said Velazquez. “Even more important is the fact that Cumberland County realized more than $110 million in private investment last year and this investment led to the creation of more than 900 jobs in our area.”

In the past five years, the total economic impact of the Improvement Authority’s projects was $403 million and resulted in the creation of 1,206 long-term and short-term jobs.

For projects ranging from the restoration of the historic East Point Lighthouse in Heislerville to the opening of the Cumberland County Technical Education Center adjacent to Cumberland County College, The Improvement Authority has worked closely with its partners to stimulate crucial development in the county. In addition to CCTEC, the Authority invested in the new Center for Workforce and Economic Development, also next to the college.

“These two workforce development resources, along with the college, now comprise the county’s ‘economic development triangle,’ said Velazquez. “This stronger model reflects our commitment to improve our resources to meet the specific demands of local business and industry,” said Velazquez.

Other notable projects completed or spearheaded in the last three years by the CCIA include: the 275 Delsea Drive Professional Services Campus in Vineland the Cumberland County College Arts and Innovation Center in Millville, and the Food Specialization Center being developed in Bridgeton, along with many others.

Among the CCIA’s principal goals under the new plan are: Making stronger contact with site locators, developers, and realtors through tours and presentations; promoting educational and Workforce Development Board training partnerships through CCTEC, CCC, and the New Jersey Department of Labor; cooperating with the Delaware River & Bay Authority to strengthen development and access at Millville Executive Airport; promoting shovel ready properties; and reviewing and creating “areas in need of development.”

According to Velazquez, the CCIA also will continue and expand initiatives to provide business assistance to generate private sector growth and partnerships.  These initiatives include the GROW NJ Assistance Program; hosting regional promotional events; expanding shared services capacity, such as fleet maintenance; and investing in alternative energy and communications technology.  “The common denominator for each project the CCIA embarks on or facilitates is that they are aimed at enhancing the quality of life in the region” he added.

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