PATERSON, NJ- Efforts to build “ecosytems of innovation” in Passaic County took a step forward on Wednesday with the announcement of $100,000 in planning funds from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA).

Joined by leaders from the government, academic, and business sectors on the steps of Paterson City Hall, Mayor Andre Sayegh announced that the funds will be used to undertake a study to help determine how innovative technology, including the development of a 5G fiber optic network, can help attract and support entrepreneurs and emerging sector companies to both Paterson and Passaic.

The grant, awarded to Passaic County, was one of nine announced statewide by Governor Phil Murphy earlier this month in what has been termed the “Innovation Challenge” to “help further New Jersey’s ability to compete and win in the 21st century economy.”

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The cities of Bridgeton, New Brunswick, Trenton, Atlantic City, and Camden are also among the awardees of these dollars.

Passaic County’s application, according to Sayegh, was developed via a collaboration among the county government, as well as the cities of Paterson and Passaic, and also Montclair State University, William Paterson University, and St. Joseph’s Health.

Mike Powell, Paterson’s Director of Economic Development said that the collaboration is one that “connects the dots” among various entities focused on workforce development while offering hope that the creation of a good plan will “lead to other funding.”

Passaic County Freeholder Deputy Director Bruce James also voiced optimism for the initiative. “If economic development happens in urban areas, everything gets better, including taxes,” James stated. “Every citizen in Paterson and Passaic will reap the benefits of what is happening today.”

“A 5G fiber optic network is not just the future, but the present” Sayegh said. By being able to bring the opportunities that exist through the increased capacity and faster speeds of an improved network to local businesses he concluded, “this $100,000 could someday translate in to millions.”