BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Somerset County, including Bernards Township, has much to offer companies that want to do business in the area, but the suburban county is at a disadvantage in being promoted by the state, Mike Kerwin, CEO of the Somerset County Business Partnership, said in a recent appearance before the Bernards Township Committee.

"We partner with the BRBA (Basking Ridge Business Alliance), and we are in contact with our legislators, including (21st district state Senator Tom) Kean," Kerwin said following the meeting. He said that Somerset County is trying to prioritize its importance with a special state committee looking at economics and businesses.

But Kerwin asserted that Somerset County is not treated fairly in terms of state incentives to attract businesses. He told the Township Committee that the state provides four times the incentives for businesses to move into Jersey City, even though that area has a lower vacancy rate for commercial properties.

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"On behalf of the (Somerset County) Freeholders, we are advocating to eliminate the 'Suburban Disadvantage," according to a handout from the Somerset County Business Partnership handed out at the meeting.

Kerwin also pointed out the many links and coordinated efforts that the partnership has with Bernards Township. 

He said Bernards Mayor Carol Bianchi is co-chair of the Employer Legislative Committee working to advocate for the county's issues.

The partnership works with the Somerset County YMCA, including the Somerset Hills facilities, and holds networking events at locations such as the US Golf Association and Delta by Marriott in the township, according to information from the partnership.

"We think the big thing is we need to promote the county's amenities to visitors and employers and residents," Kerwin said.

Following Kerwin's presentation, Bianchi said there is a great partnership between Somerset County' and Bernards Township's business community.