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Somerset to host business outreach session as part of regional plan creation

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The Somerset County Business Partnership and county freeholders will complete another step in creating the county's comprehensive economic development strategy, or CEDS, when they host a business outreach session March 14.

According to Michael Kerwin, SCBP president and CEO, the goal of the workshop is to get input from the private sector of the county's regional center of Bridgewater, Raritan and Somerville about issues in economic development — such as maintaining the current work force and merging industries — and possible steps to overcome them.

SCBP's partnership with Somerset County has aided the CEDS initiative, since the county updated its strategic plan to outline priority areas of potential growth, Kerwin said. The ultimate goal of CEDS is to create and retain jobs within the region through county-wide planning and performance measurement.

"The state and local strategic plans lay the groundwork to get businesses to step up to planning and working with the county's guidelines for development," Kerwin said. "So far, local businesses are giving significant input to the CEDS, and the guidelines from state, county and even the federal governments will help prioritize investments."

The workshop will break into subcommittees to discuss issues that will affect economic development in the regional center, which are transportation, eco-friendly initiatives, work force, future jobs and CEDS approval process. The Regional Center Partnership will then use suggestions from the business community to prioritize the issues that will be addressed in CEDS and implemented in a business-driven agenda for the county.

"The Regional Center is in a unique position to help drive the economic agenda for the county," partnership chair Rose Evans said in prepared remarks. "The state plan specifically says that among the goals is to focus policies and investments on regions that support regional planning. That's us, and this is our opportunity to take advantage of their generosity."

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