FLEMINGTON, N.J. – The county’s Economic Development Division is moving its offices to the headquarters of the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce, where it will share space with the business group in the Large house on Main Street here.
It’s no secret that Hunterdon’s Freeholders seek economic development. At each of the Freeholder’s reorganization meetings over the last three years, the incoming Freeholder Director has cited the objective as vital to the county’s future.
When current Freeholder Director Matt Holt took the post in January, he noted that over the last 50 years, the county has gone from about 3.25 people per household and an average age of 32 to 2.5 people per household and an average age of 45.
“And we’re going to be at 50 years old as an average county age in the next 10 years, mark my words, unless we do something about it,” Holt said. “That would be an indication of a society that “can’t regenerate itself,” he said, “A declining society. What a shame for Hunterdon.”
When Freeholder John Lanza was named Freeholder Director the year before, he said a reason for the county’s economic struggles was that “local government has an attitude problem.”
At Tuesday’s county Freeholder meeting, Holt said that when the county established its Economic Development Division three years ago, “It set in motion what we had as our vision ... to move ourselves from a county division into essentially, eventually, a public-private partnership which is a tremendous success model elsewhere.”
Holt said those involved agreed that “mutually collaborative efforts between the county’s activities and the Chamber’s efforts were in the best interests of the county residents and continue to drive economic development forward.”
The next step is moving the Economic Development Division into the Chamber’s headquarters, which the Freeholders approved unanimously.
The office space comes with a one-year lease and free rent “at this point in time,” Holt said, with an option for a one-year extension.
Freeholder Suzanne Lagay, who before becoming a Freeholder was the head of Hunterdon’s Chamber of Commerce, said moving the division’s offices “is a major step ... and a cost effective one” towards the public-private partnership.
“This is the vision we’ve had all along,” said Lanza. “We have two of the biggest drivers of economic development in both the public and private sectors in Hunterdon County coming together.”
The move is expected to be completed next month.