EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Among the top priorities for the administration have been and remain cleaning up the appearance of Route 18 to better recruit the businesses we know East Brunswick will be proud of and to recreate a thriving business community. To these ends, 2017 represented a tremendous opportunity to begin undertaking these priorities. The year was spent establishing the stability and process that will be necessary to accomplish these goals.
One of the first major accomplishments in 2017 was the reestablishment and re-creation of the East Brunswick Chamber of Commerce. As the Township grows and pushes forward into the future, we want to see the business community organized in a way to best advocate for their needs so that they will be a major part of it. The administration gathered business leaders from all walks of commerce and began charting the course forward with a steering committee. This lead to a kick-off event in September, where the newly formed organization elected an energetic group of business owners, all under the age of 40, to serve as its executive board. There has been an educational or networking event every month in 2017, with the same planned for 2018.
Our second major accomplishment in 2017 was the creation of the two Property Tax Reduction Card programs. Both of these programs reward residents who shop at participating businesses by having a percentage of their purchase be applied to their property tax bill. The first of these programs, the Shop EB Card, launched in June. The first round of businesses that signed up included a wide variety of industries ranging from restaurants to fitness to car dealerships and lumber yards. In its half year existence, the Shop EB Card, has saved the participating residents thousands of dollars which will be applied to their 2018 taxes. In the late fall, the Township unveiled the East Brunswick Estate Card. This is a debit card that works in the same way as the Shop EB card, but instead allows residents to also benefit from online shopping.
The first two accomplishments set the stage for improving commerce in town, something that is already paying dividends with all of the new businesses we’ve welcomed. In the past year alone, we have welcomed Aldi’s Supermarket, the Park Chateau, Red Robin, Peak Environmental, a new location for Popcorn for the People, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Home Goods, Five Guys, Starbucks, Afghan Palace, WithumSmith+Brown, and so many more. The tide is turning, businesses are specifically choosing to expand to or outright move their operations to East Brunswick due to our central location and easy access to all of the major traffic arteries in the state.
With our next major accomplishment, the tide of businesses coming here will only increase in number and quality. We will be bringing in the types of businesses that we all know East Brunswick can and will support. But we must improve the first thing that most out-of-towners see when they arrive, and that is Route 18. In 2017, we created a Redevelopment Agency that will be tasked with overseeing the improvements along and developing a plan for one of the most prime, under-utilized commercial corridors in the state. This agency is run by everyday East Brunswick residents who have experience in real estate, construction, law, appraising, and urban planning and will give the project the type of stability away from political infighting that scares away potential businesses and developers away. Most of this work during 2017 was about getting the agency created, organized, and prepared for the real work to begin.
The year 2017 is the year that East Brunswick began empowering its business community, created innovative tax saving programs, encouraged new businesses to move into the community and prepared itself for the creation of a downtown center of arts, culture and commerce.