SOMERVILLE, NJ  - The Tour of Somerville, which draws over 1,000 cyclists and thousands of spectators from the region and around the world to the downtown district Memorial Day weekend is the winner of the “Tourism Champion” category in the Salute to Tourism Awards which will be presented Jan. 18th at the Bridgewater Marriott.

Sponsored by the Somerset County Business Partnership, the awards will highlight the 6th annual event which will kick off the SBPA’s 100th anniversary celebration.

The program pays tribute to front line tourism staff and organizations that set the bar for Somerset County's $1.2 billion tourism industry.

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“We’ve recently updated our mission: put Somerset County on the map,” said Mike Kerwin, president and CEO of the SCBP. “To achieve this, we’ve invited world renowned expert Steven Pedigo, an expert in placemaking.”

Pedigo is an expert in economic and urban development, city strategy and management, and placemaking. Steven has advised and collaborated with more than 50 cities, universities, developers, nonprofits, and Fortune 500 companies across the globe to build more creative, innovative, and inclusive communities.

He has worked with New York City, Jerusalem, Vancouver, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Brisbane, the Yukon, Tulsa, Austin, Portland, Newark, San Diego-Tijuana, Miami, Sao Paulo, Monterrey, Mexico City, and many others. His corporate clients include BMW, Converse, Starwood Hotels, Philips, Cirque du Soleil, Audi, Pinewood Studios, Zappos, EDENS, Kraft, among others.

A resident of South Orange, he is the director of the New York University Schack Institute of Real Estate Urban Lab and a clinical assistant professor of economic development at NYU. He is also the director of research and advising for the Creative Class Group, in addition to being an associate partner at Resonance Consultancy(Vancouver/NYC) and a senior advisor for Leland Consulting (Portland).

Other winners that will receive awards at the event include:

-      Outstanding Event: Weekend Journey Through the Past from the Cultural & Heritage Commission. An event that spans an entire weekend for visitors to see what life was like in their own backyard 50, 100, and even 200 years ago in an entertaining way

-      Economic Champion: Center for Contemporary Art which serves as a bedrock for the arts in Somerset County

-      Service Excellence: Gina Di Francesco who continues to create exceptional value at Bridgewater Marriott, always thinking two steps ahead in order to provide guests with the best experiences during their stay.

The Salute to Tourism Awards program will be held  from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Bridgewater Marriott, 700 Commons Way in Bridgewater It will include the awards presentation, networking reception, and luncheon with Pedigo who will speak on “Leveraging Somerset's Community Brand and Identity."

Registration is available online:  http://web.scbp.org/events/6thAnnual%20Salute%20to%20Tourism%20Awards-18809/details