I hope that memories of a sunny beach or mountain getaway are strongly in your mind as you enter busy fall and fourth quarter ahead.  I am glad to announce that Morris County continued to see strong economic growth over the past year.  Morris County’s gross domestic product (GDP) – the measure of total economic output – was $53 billion in 2017, which is a $3 billion increase since 2016.  A remarkable amount of commerce is occurring in Morris County, which has the third highest GRP in the state third only to Bergen and Middlesex counties.  This situates the county’s economy within the top 100 economies in the US and exceeds the GDP of five states.  The County has a 4% unemployment rate overall, a well-educated workforce with over 20% having a graduate degree or higher, and a median income of $95,000.  See the 2018 data sheet here.

Home to over 800 headquarters locations, Morris County continues to prove itself as a choice location for corporations of all sizes. The County has over 28,000 businesses and 315,000 employees.  Parsippany, which boasts the largest concentration of office space in northern New Jersey, has over 32,000 non-residents commute to the Township daily.  Many companies have relocated or renewed their leases in the County this year. Notable recent corporate relocations include UPS, Barclays, Langan, Allergan and Teva who have relocated thousands of employees to their campuses in Morris County.

Despite these successes, there is more work to be done promoting the value of the County especially considering the over twenty percent office vacancy rate that remains as businesses consolidate, merge and in some cases relocate.  The vacancy rate has a negative impact on municipal revenue as assessed values decrease.  The silver lining is the County is benefitting from sophisticated and well-capitalized private sector developers who repositioning many of the older corporate campuses by investing millions of dollars and upgrading the spaces to have world-class amenities.  Two great examples are 340 Mt. Kemble in Morris Township (developer Onyx Equities) and Morris Corporate Center IV, known as “Latitude” (developers Vision Real Estate Partners).

The Morris County Economic Development Corporation, with support of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, has embarked on a targeted digital marketing campaign with NJ Advance Media in the five boroughs of New York City to promote the county and attract growing companies.  The campaign highlights the value of corporate relocation and expansion to Morris County including the advantages of lower real estate costs; easy access via road, rail and air; connections to suppliers and customers; access to talent and excellent schools.  See the sponsor content article here.

Successful economic development hinges on Morris County providing companies a talented workforce and access to continuing education and training.  With this in mind, the MCEDC has established a Workforce Committee and has launched Morris@Work, a talent initiative with the Workforce Development Board.   Morris@Work will, on a regular basis, provide a forum for employers where they can learn from each other and access the resources to help them succeed.   Fortunately New Jersey public schools are ranked second in the nation and Morris County schools are consistently highly ranked in the state and country lists – both public and private education.  This is attractive to employees that are raising a family and employers recruiting students from CCM or returning with prestigious university degrees.

Morris County is fortunate not to depend entirely on one industry, or on a single employer. With approximately 28,000 businesses in various sectors the diversity of the economy is reflected in the top economic sectors including:

  • professional, scientific and technical services;
  • health care;
  • government;
  • retail;
  • food services;
  • administrative support;
  • manufacturing;
  • finance and insurance; and
  • wholesale trade

The MCEDC is supporting municipalities’ economic development efforts by creating “market profiles” and highlighting the assets of the thirty nine communities within the County.  We also link to their webpages, which improves search engine optimization, considering that the majority of searches by businesses and site location consultants are conducted on-line.  In 2018, the Morris County Economic Development Alliance, the non-profit arm of the MCEDC, ran the first ever municipal grant program.   Municipal efforts to attract and retain businesses are also supported by the MCEDC’s outreach initiative “Listening to Business.”

Nationwide, economic development organizations are seeking ways to grow and support small businesses and local entrepreneurs.  While most residents are employed by large corporations, 50% of the businesses in the County have fewer than five employees.  The MCEDC recognizes the additional support that new businesses need to succeed and as such has launched an entrepreneur initiative to support fledgling businesses within the County.  The “StartUp, MoveUp Morris” initiative, in conjunction with the MorrisTech MeetUp and in partnership with the public and private sector, will connect businesses with resources and opportunities to meet and discuss challenges and successes.  If you or someone you know is considering starting their own business, enroll in Entrepreneur 101, a six week evening course, will start this September.

Morris County is truly an exceptional place with many collaborative efforts between the public, private and non-profit sectors.  The MCEDC is fortunate to have many volunteers and committee chairs that give of their time and talent to advance these initiatives.  I am grateful for their support of the organization and expertise to make Morris County an even better place to live and work. Learn more about our committees here.

I look forward to seeing you this fall at one of the many MCEDC or Chamber events!  To learn more about the MCEDC, join us at our upcoming Open House on September 20 at noon in Florham Park or please call or e-mail me at (973) 539-8270 or mhunscher@morriscountyedc.org