Economic growth was the major theme of mayor John McCormac's State of the Township Address on Tuesday afternoon, as he outlined plans to repopulate the downtown business areas, new factories opening throughout the township and green energy initiatives.
Speaking to the Woodbridge Metro Chamber of Commerce, McCormac announced that through June 30, township business permit fees for will be waived for businesses who wish to open in a downtown area, relocate to one, or expand an existing business.
Five areas are being targeted: Woodbridge's Main Street, Colonia's Inman Avenue corridor, Oak Tree Road, Route 27 and Green Street in Iselin, New Brunswick Avenue in Fords, the downtown areas of Avenel and Port Reading, the Route 35/Amboy Avenue corridor and the Route 1 business corridor, according to the township.
McCormac said over $2 million in permit fees has already come in for the year, with a budget set at $1.6 million.
The suspension of permit fees as an incentive to grow local business will not be a strain on the budget, he said.
Township businesses will also be eligible for green energy sources through the New Jersey Direct Install Program, which replaces businesses' outdated utilities with up to date, eco-efficient systems, according to McCormac.
The program picks up 70 percent of the cost of the project, he said.
"Woodbridge is still the most sustainable and environmentally-friendly town in the state as we captured our fifth straight Sustainable New Jersey Silver-Level Championship Award in 2013," he said.
Elsewhere in town, three major distributors are on their way to opening factory and distribution warehouses: Tommy Maloney's, a major Irish beef importer, has purchased the former Haagen Daz plant in Woodbridge; Arizona Iced Tea will build a full manufacturing, packaging and distribution warehouse in Fords and Preferred Freezer Services plans to open a brand-new facility in Avenel.
Each of those facilities will bring several hundred new jobs to the township, according to McCormac.
Complimenting that growth is the township's new AA+ credit rating, assigned by Standard and Poor.
The township was previously rated at AA-, two points lower, McCormac said.
"The fact that our S&P credit rating is so strong reflects on the fact that corporations, businesses and residents are making long-term improvements to their businesses and properties," he said.