EAST WINDSOR: Forum focused on economic growth and development opportunity in East Windsor

By Amy Batista, Special Writer
The East Windsor Economic Development Committee and Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce co-hosted an economic development forum and networking breakfast last Tuesday morning.
The forum was held in the Americana Diner at 359 Route 130 on Sept. 29. Registration and networking began at 7:30 a.m., followed by a full breakfast. The forum, which began at 8:30 a.m., was sponsored by Fulton Bank and Shiseido and was followed by a question and answer session.
“Economic Growth and Development Opportunity in East Windsor” featured a panel that included Timothy Losch of Fulton Bank as moderator, Rick Zack of Advanced Realty Commercial Retail, Doug Twyman of Collier’s International, and Carolyn Sica of CBRE Inc., and East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov.
“I want to thank them for joining us and I look forward to their comments,” Mayor Mironov said.
Local and state dignitaries were in attendance including Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, Assemblyman Dan Benson, Freeholder Pasquale “Pat” Colavita, Freeholder Ann Cannon, as well as East Windsor Councilmen Peter Yeager and John Zoller.
“We in East Windsor have always been part of our local team,” Mayor Mironov said. “We are very excited in East Windsor with all of the goings-on and the new developments that we have in so many respects here in town.”
The mayor said people who drive around town will see lots of “shovels in the ground.” She said that the township has been very proactive in reaching out to, working with and supporting new businesses that want to come or relocate to the community.
“We have seen with the economy looking a little bit better, we’ve had a pretty good steady climb and now we are seeing the fruits of many of those foundations and outreaches that we have done,” she said.
There is a lot in East Windsor that is “attractive and desirable” for new businesses, according to the mayor.
“Just the location itself,” she said. “We are sitting here in the prime location of New Jersey smack dab in the center. Tremendous access. Tremendous visibility. Available sites.”
The township aims to work with and support economic developers’ efforts, she said.
“We set up a system in town that we believe is very user-friendly that provides good instruction and good support throughout the process from the planning through the construction,” she said.
Mr. Losch said that East Windsor is a very important market in Central New Jersey for Fulton Bank.
“We are very excited about being part of this panel today to talk about the opportunities in East Windsor,” he said.
Introducing the panel, he noted that the common thread among Mr. Zack, Mr. Twyman and Ms. Sica is that they work for “very impactful, strong, large real estate development companies.”
“The key thing is that they are local; they focus on the markets which they serve so they bring the resources of very large companies to East Windsor,” he said.
Each panelist was given a few minutes to address the attendees.
“Our focus in East Windsor in Advance Realty is typically we center around the retail market specifically around the hub that is (Route) 571 and (Route) 130, which we believe that is one of the best intersections not only in East Windsor but in Mercer County” said Mr. Zack.
In 2012, Advance Realty had the opportunity to purchase the asset that was formerly Super Fresh Supermarket, he said.
“It was an old center and much vacancy,” he said. “With the partnership of Mayor Mironov and the town of East Windsor, we put a plan together and invested in East Windsor and took a lot of time to learn about the needs of the community.”
Mr. Twyman, who primarily focuses on office space, said East Windsor is a good community to do business in because of its excellent highway and turnpike access, responsive government, streamlined processes, and amenities.
“A responsive government that listens to companies when they come into town that have interests in a particular property, whether it is to lease or buy, and they know where to go and who to speak with so the process is streamlined in comparison to other towns,” he said.
He has had positive experiences completing transactions in East Windsor, he said.
“You have a very good option of housing to live in and work nearby,” he said. “People like to drive less these days and be closer to where they work.”
The economy is improving throughout Mercer County, according to Mr. Twyman.
“East Windsor is the beneficiary of that,” he said.
There is not a real deep pool of office space though, he said.
“The buildings that are out there are filling up; the rents have held strong and they are actually increasing over the last 18 months,” he said.
Ms. Sica, who also specializes in office space reality, said that East Windsor has really changed in terms of development.
“The widening of the turnpike, the 133 bypass, have really done well,” she said. “The forecast for 2016 is sustained growth. Our vacancy rates are falling. Our asking rates are rising. Tenant demand is strong.”
“It’s all positive for us,” she added.
She said CBRE Inc. took over leasing the Windsor Cooperate Center at the end of May.
“The amount of activity that we see at the park, whether it is existing tenants expanding or new tenants entering the market, is absolutely phenomenal,” she said.
A lot of it has to do with how East Windsor is situated in the state, she said.
“We are poised really well at this moment to attract and retain talent,” she said. “Tenants are doing a lot more today with a lot less.”
Ms. Sica said East Windsor provides a great quality of life.
“It’s a great place to live,” she said. “I think that we will continue to see residential development.”
Mr. Losch asked the panelists what’s attractive about the township’s workforce.
“You have a great combination of a highly educated workforce, a diverse workforce here in East Windsor and Mercer County, and I think that’s helpful,” Mr. Zack said. “I think that when tenants come and look at our market and look at our assets and whether or not to move here, relocate here, expand here, they look at the workforce, they look at the labor pool.”
He noted that residents want to work locally and stay close to their kids.
Ms. Sica said, “People that are here tend to stay here and I think you have an educated workforce here.”
She noted there are a lot of well-known colleges and universities in the area. While other areas get too expensive to live in, people will start moving to places like East Windsor, she said.
“I think East Windsor is poised to be the recipient of that,” she said.
Mr. Twyman said the town has a “strong public school system” and that Princeton University is 15 minutes away and Mercer County Community College is 10 minutes away.
“It’s developing but it’s also spreading out at the same time,” he said, adding that East Windsor has a good amount of open space.
Mr. Losch said New Jersey takes a lot of criticism about the costs of doing business.
“I think the incentives that are in place as well as local cooperation from the local municipalities is so important,” he said. “We couldn’t have found a more business friendly type of environment than working with these folks here.”
He said it is so important for municipalities to forge relationships with the private and public sectors.
“I think it is a win-win when it is done well,” he said. 