Byrne and Gertler Emphasize the Need for Borough Participation in Madison’s Economic Development
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 • 7:43pm
MADISON – In a joint prepared statement, Democratic candidates for Madison Borough Council Maureen Byrne and Jeff Gertler emphasize the need for the borough government to actively participate in Madison’s economic development.
Candidates Byrne and Gertler state: “Located along the NJ Transit Morris Corridor, Madison offers its residents a unique opportunity to access quality housing and education systems, while easily commuting to careers in NYC and the surrounding corporate campuses. Our downtown business community contributes to the overall quality of life, by providing essential services and goods within an easy walk or drive. We note that NJ Monthly Magazine recently recognized Madison as one of the top twenty communities in the state. Working together as a community, we believe we can further improve on that Madison quality of life we all treasure.
When we speak of Madison’s ‘downtown,’ many only think of the portion of Main Street between Green Village Rd and Greenwood Avenue, but the truth is that our downtown encompasses a greater scope than that. Beginning at Park Avenue, it extends for over two miles, ending at the Chatham border. Although the majority of businesses are concentrated around Waverly Place, the area for development extends along the entire corridor. We need to promote Madison’s entire business community, and support the many entrepreneurs in our midst.”
Byrne observed that “the town needs to work with Madison businesses to increase local traffic in downtown. The Downtown Development Commission (DDC) and the Chamber of Commerce already sponsor many events meant to bring shoppers downtown. The annual ‘Taste of Madison,’ which I have co-chaired, and the Farmers Market, which I have supervised, along with Bottle Hill Day and the Christmas Parade, are but a few examples.
A successful program offered by the Chamber of Commerce is their ‘Value Card.’ Offered for a yearly fee of $10, the card offers discounts at Chamber stores and businesses. This year, the DDC and the Chamber are partnering on Corporate Value Cards, which will be distributed to businesses with employees of 500 or more. The Corporate Card will be linked to a website where discounts and specials associated with the card will be displayed. Now in its final stages of development, the town hopes to roll out the Quest Corporate Card in time for the holiday shopping season.
Planning Board member and candidate Gertler noted that “in his experience in designing retail space for retailers around the country, the one statistic every retailer asks every landlord is: what is the number of people who will walk in front of their store every day? We need to explore and promote every practical and creative idea that will increase foot traffic. As Maureen noted, The Farmer’s Market as well as the Downtown Concert Series are great examples of that, and we need more attractions like those. We need to entice new out of the ordinary retailers to fill our downtown windows with attention-grabbing merchandise that lures us to stroll down the street and shop at all of our stores and eat at all of our restaurants. Let’s have our stores stay open later so that when we come home from work we want to buy something downtown before going home.
If we have to aggressively attract new exciting businesses with incentives, then let’s be creative and do it so our existing businesses enjoy a new economic energy in town. We can’t rely only on new sidewalks, plantings and signage. While they are beneficial and supportive, and our DDC has been doing amazing things making our downtown look first class, we have to be mindful that we have significant competition from multi-national retailers (i.e., the Short Hills Mall and Morristown), and they play hardball to make their quarterly profits margins. We need to focus on a plan that encourages us to buy locally, expands our retail and corporate base, and stimulates our vibrant downtown.
Maureen and I endorse a well executed prospectus/video, highlighting the benefits of locating in Madison be developed, possibly in partnership with local realtors, highlighting our schools, our security, our transit advantages, our historic downtown, and business opportunities. This prospectus/video would be distributed to retailers, real estate developers, corporations and relocation companies, to create a buzz about Madison, and what it has to offer.”
Byrne and Gertler concluded that “Madison has thrived as long as it has because its residents and governing bodies acknowledge that it takes the efforts of the entire town to create community. The level of civic engagement in Madison is outstanding; our volunteer boards, our PTO’s, our sports leagues and governing bodies are full of engaged and active volunteers, who truly care and believe that their actions impact Madison in a meaningful and productive manner.
We need to continue to support these efforts, and work to bring more people into the process. An engaged and active community creates opportunities for all residents. Madison has shown that when the need arises, the community responds. And that is what ‘Putting Madison First’ really means.”