By Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone
Happy February! I’m excited that our friend Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow signaling an early spring will be upon us.
I would like to update you on what I have been up to the last couple weeks.
My fellow Freeholders and I have been keeping busy working on the 2020 Monmouth County Budget. As I have said many times before, we do not start working on the budget in the early months of the year. Instead, my colleagues and I work throughout the entire year to efficiently run our departments while keeping costs down.
On a separate note,I had the honor of attending EMACC’s Annual Spinnaker Awards last week. This event acknowledges and honors businesses and individuals in the community that go above and beyond to serve our local business community. It is always a pleasure to support our business community who are an essential part the County. Congratulations to all of the honorees including my good friend and Middletown Mayor, Tony Perry!
Last week I also joined the students at the farm for my healthy eating initiative, SUSHI (Suburban, Urban, School, Healthy, Initiative). During the trip, we made and ate salads from the different types of greens that the students have grown so far this year. It was so great to see the students be able to not only grow their own produce but to see them pick it, clean it and eat it as well!
Speaking of the SUSHI program, I am proud to say that I have been asked to speak at the College of New Jersey next month about this important program. My goal in creating this program was to show students the importance of eating local and eating healthy through educational programs. It has been an honor to watch this program grow and expand over the last three years and I look forward to continuing its expansion in the coming years.
Additionally, I am excited to announce that once again County Clerk Christine Hanlon and I will be hosting an Elected Official Workshop at Brookdale Community College this year. This is a great way to give elected officials, whether newly elected or experienced, the opportunity to learn a lot of important information about all aspects of County government. We will have speakers from many different departments throughout the County give presentations.
On another note, I’m proud to report the Monmouth County Division of Tourism has been busy representing our area at several trade and travel shows. In January, Division staff attended both the New York Times Travel Show and the New York Boat show – both held at the Javits Center in New York City. Both shows were well attended by both tristate residents, as well as people from all around the country. These shows provide the Division the opportunity to showcase Monmouth County to potential visitors. Last year, all shows the Division attended allowed us to reach over 500,000 potential visitors to the area!
As liaison to the Division of Tourism, I know just how important the tourism industry is in Monmouth County. According to the most recent report by the State, tourism in Monmouth County is nearly a $2.6 billion industry! Moreover, the industry provides for more than 30,000 jobs in Monmouth County.
Our Tourism staff is already busy preparing for the next upcoming trade and travel shows in Philadelphia and Montreal. Along with local partners, Division staff will showcase Monmouth County at the Montreal Outdoor Show and the Philadelphia Flower Show.
On a final tourism-related note, the 2020 Visit Monmouth travel guides are now available. To request a free copy, please email [email protected] or call 1-800-523-2587.
Lastly, I want to mention that we are just a little more than two months away from Made in Monmouth on April 18th from 10am-4pm at Monmouth University. As liaison to the department of Economic Development I would like to encourage all residents and visitors to take advantage of this free event that features hundreds of consumer products made right here in Monmouth County.
As always, it’s a privilege to serve as your Freeholder Director.