Natalia Knochowski

MONROE – Officials from four Middlesex County municipalities met last Thursday afternoon at a luncheon hosted by the Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce to discuss the state of economic development in each town – and each official had optimistic reports and plans.
Mayor Peter Cantu, of Plainsboro, Mayor Richard Pucci, of Monroe Township, Mayor Frank Gambatese, of South Brunswick, and Committeeman David Cook, of Cranbury – filling in for Mayor David Stout – were all in attendance.
Mayor Gambatese said businesses are coming into South Brunswick, which he defined as a diverse community, at a very quick pace.
He mentioned that in the past several years in which he’s been mayor, there have been about 900 new businesses that have come into the township.
He noted, for example, that construction has started on a new Coca-Cola building.
"We are a very, very advanced community," Mayor Gambatese said, referencing the South Brunswick’s senior center, "tremendous" recreational center and library, which soon will have its own coffeehouse.
Mayor Cantu said Princeton Forrestal Village is a huge asset for Plainsboro’s economic growth, and the new Princeton University Hospital in Plainsboro, which will be opening next year, also will benefit the area.
In addition, Plainsboro earned an AAA bond rating this year.
Mayor Pucci said Monroe Township is often misunderstood and because there is a large senior community in the 43-square-mile township, people tend to forget the township has good quality education for students.
Mayor Pucci also said highlights of the township include it having the lowest equalized property taxes in the county, a brand new library, numerous parks, modernized facilities and an expanding community center.
Mayor Pucci added that Route 33 and new businesses, such as big-box stores, will enable "future growth for economic development," and when the Master Plan is revised, there will be a chance to preserve more open land.
"Cranbury realizes businesses are what make Cranbury happen," said Mr. Cook, who mentioned that the bulk of ratables Cranbury gets come from office space and warehouse businesses.
He said there is an opportunity to attract new office spaces when the Master Plan is revised this year.
As for Cranbury’s future economic growth, he mentioned a new Hyatt Hotel project and additional office and retail space on South River Road.
"We realize we need to be getting new businesses," Mr. Cook added.
When a question was asked about adding more shared services agreements between municipalities, there was an overall consensus that, although beneficial, shared services are not always the best idea.
Mayor Pucci said although shared services sound good and will help, they’re not going to be the saving aspect of the township.
"It’s not as dramatic as you think," Mayor Gambatese said.
The luncheon was held at the Crown Plaza Hotel, located on 390 Forsgate Drive, in Monroe Township.