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Planning Ahead for a Sustainable Future in Union County

Christopher Hudak, Chairman, Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders

Thursday, March 13, 2014 • 12:22pm

UNION COUNTY, NJ - This year will be a very active one for Union County government, the business community, and other stakeholders, as we take important steps toward building a firm platform for sustainable economic growth.

That includes a firm focus on environmental sustainability and quality of life improvements, as public wellness and a strong education infrastructure are at the core of our long term future.

First I’d like to draw your attention to Tuesday, March 18. This is the kickoff event for the 2014 edition of our Union County Means Business networking series. Now in its third year, this initiative connects business owners and managers with public resources that support their efforts.

Another key activity this year is Union County 2030. One of my Chairman’s Initiatives, Union County 2030 is a multi-layer planning effort designed to support economic growth while improving quality of life.

Part of Union County 2030 involves traditional shovels-in-the-ground civic projects that form the backbone of every thriving community.

This year our projects include a new Family Court building, expansion of the Union County College campus in Cranford and renovation of its Plainfield campus, and several major “Turf and Build” public recreation projects.

A second layer of planning encompasses the complex challenges of sustainable development, transportation, infrastructure resilience, and competitiveness.

To address these issues, we have embarked two-year initiative in partnership with Together North Jersey, aimed at achieving a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development based on the principle that public health, safety and quality of life are essential to long term economic growth.

That includes a new Union County Sustainable Communities Guide that we will share with stakeholders this fall, with the ultimate goal of forming a Livable Communities Network. 

A significant element in our transportation planning is one-seat service to New York City on the Raritan Valley line. I pledged to push for that service as Freeholder Chairman this year, and NJ TRANSIT set it in motion on Monday, March 3.

The new one-seat service enables commuters using stations in Plainfield, Fanwood, Westfield, Garwood, Cranford, Roselle Park, and Union to travel to New York Penn Station without changing trains in Newark. It is currently available during the midday hours (for a printable Raritan Valley schedule with the new service highlighted in bold frames visit njtransit.com).

Other aspects of our long term planning include infrastructure hardening and a forthcoming report on competitiveness by the Heldrich Center at Rutgers University.

We are also continuing with Union County Women Mean Business, a special program introduced last year that aims to tap into the rich vein of skills and talents among women in our business community.

That brings us back around to the upcoming Union County Means Business session on March 18. This session will be particularly interesting because state and federal elected officials will attend and describe the legislative outlook for business in 2014.

I hope you will join us in these efforts to prepare and plan for the future of Union County.

The Union County Means Business “Legislative Outlook for Business 2014” session will be held on Tuesday, March 18, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at the Kean University STEM Building, 1 Elizabethtown Plaza in Union (off Morris Avenue, across from the main campus).

For more information on Union County Means Business and to register for upcoming events, visit ucnj2.org/ucmb or call the County Manager’s office, 908-527-4200.

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