PATERSON, NJ – In search of ways of resolving Paterson’s ongoing struggles with economic development, Mayor Jeffery Jones on February 22 hosted a “communications roundtable” at the New Jersey Small Business Development Center at William Paterson University.
“As the first planned industrial city in America, we have to integrate the city’s historical advantages with its wealth of diversity,” said Jones in a press release. “As Mayor of the Silk City I am reaching out to government, businesses, residents and community organizations to work together to build Paterson’s future as a Global Opportunity Hub.”
Jones said in the press release that research and development, light assembly and manufacturing, and tourism were the three industries that are the key to Paterson’s future.
“Paterson has a global advantage as a destination for business and economic development because of Paterson’s diverse population – which reflects residents from more than 52 nations – along with its natural resources, proximity to New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, its commuter railway and rapid transit system, its strong small business community, and partnerships with local colleges and universities, state and county government and business organizations.’’
The press release did not mention any new economic development initiatives, but highlighted proposals and ideas the mayor has mentioned at various public meetings during the past year.
In 2011, Paterson lost about $266 million worth of ratables through successful tax appeals, so that tax burden will be shifted to all other city property owners. Municipal officials have said the average homeowner will pay an extra $280 total in the next two tax bills to offset the loss.
Meanwhile, Paterson’s economic development office has been in turmoil for the past 15 months. The one-time director, Brian Sweeney, was demoted in 2010 after his dispute with his boss, community development director Lanisha Makle, prompted a call to the city police.
Sweeney has not been replaced yet, but city officials say the state has given them the go-ahead to begin conducting a search for candidates.
Jones called the the city’s partnerships with organizations such as the SBDC at William Paterson University, the Paterson Chamber of Commerce and Greater Paterson Chamber of Commerce “the bedrock of Paterson’s future.”
“We encourage businesses to tap into these resources and join us in our mission to build a modern, world-class city that brings jobs to Paterson residents and revenues to our businesses and community,” the mayor said in his press release.
Jones, whose administration came under fire by activists for the recent demolition of the Royle mill, called historic preservation a priority in planning throughout the city. He also highlighted the Great Falls Historical National Park, Paterson Museum, development of Hinchliffe Stadium, and proposed renovation of the Paterson Armory.
“We must build on Paterson’s history and construct a multicultural footprint that encourages visitors and residents to explore the Paterson of yesterday and frequent the city’s vibrant and diverse neighborhoods including its Latino, Middle Eastern and African-American enclaves that are microcosms of communities from around the world,’’ Jones said.