The Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners emphasize key investment areas, and outline County vision for 2023 during State of the County address

The Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners emphasize key investment areas, and outline County vision for 2023 during State of the County address

 

County commissioner director highlights County’s commitment to improving quality of life for families and individuals through key programs

 

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MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ – The 2023 State of the County address, held on Tuesday evening by County Commissioner Director Ronald G. Rios, reaffirmed the County’s commitment to its residents with programs and initiatives specifically focused on creating jobs, bolstering the education system, creating more convenient ways to travel, tackling challenges related to behavioral health, and enjoying sports, entertainment, and culture.

 

The in-person event was held at West Hall in Middlesex College and attended by 300 County residents, business leaders, students, and government officials. A link to the full event can be found here.

 

“As public servants, we on the Board never lose sight of the fact that the primary purpose and function of government is to serve the people,” said County Commissioner Director Ronald G. Rios. “So as a Board, every decision we make – fiscal or otherwise – is made with the best interests of County residents and businesses in mind.”

 

During his address, Rios emphasized that the County’s fiscal health is the result of deliberate and strategic decisions made with the County’s long-term economic stability and success in mind, making it the second lowest budget per-capita in the state, providing services for taxpayers at a dramatically lower cost than other major counties in the state. As an example, the County budget increased the surplus fund to $101 million, and has reduced the total County debt by 43 percent since 2013.

 

Rios illustrated how the introduction of new, and the increased use of existing, shared services with municipalities and counties, as well as leveraging private partnerships where possible, led to the County’s fiscal success. For instance, the Employee Wellness Program has led to a 0% increase in health benefit costs in 2023, resulting in an estimated $4 million annual savings for the County.

 

“But what does ‘improved quality of life’ really mean? It means attracting and creating jobs here in the County so our residents have the freedom to choose the best job to support themselves and their families; it means offering easier, more convenient ways to travel to and within the County; it means ensuring that our families have access to top schools, sports, entertainment, and culture; and it means making sure every County resident has access to quality healthcare, including preventative care,” said Rios.

 

Moreover, Middlesex College is undergoing significant infrastructure changes, including the “Destination Athletic Complex,” which is part of the broader Community, Innovation, and Opportunity (CIO) Strategic Investment Plan, transforming the campus into a regional destination for academics, athletics, and the arts.

 

With the wellbeing of Middlesex County communities at the forefront, Rios also emphasized how the County’s future will be built with union labor, with a project labor agreement (PLA) attached to the CIO Strategic Investment Plan, and reaffirmed the Board’s commitment to ensuring Middlesex County is a place where diversity, equity, and inclusion all truly come together. To that end, earlier this month, the Board of County Commissioners adopted a resolution to set aside, or otherwise allocate, 20% of the dollar value of all County contracts for goods and services in a fiscal year to minority-, women-, veteran-owned, and small businesses.

Additionally, the County is also playing a significant role in constructing the New Jersey Health and Life Science Exchange (HELIX), leveraging its triple-A bond rating to provide financing for nearly $500 million in project funds to construct the first building, which will house the NJ Innovation Hub. The HELIX will serve as a home for businesses, entrepreneurs, researchers, and innovators of all kinds, and will continue to attract new and existing businesses to the County. Eventually, the HELIX will house the command center for DataCity, the County’s living laboratory for autonomous technology.

Middlesex County is also growing responsibly through infrastructure investments that make it easier for residents to get to and from their existing jobs. For instance, the County, through the MCIA, in partnership with NJTRANSIT, is spearheading the modernization of the New Brunswick Train Station and the construction of the North Brunswick Train Station. Earlier this year, NJTransit approved the concept design for the North Brunswick Train Station, and work is already well underway on the next step of the design. In New Brunswick, the MCIA is hard at work with NJTransit, developing the design for the renovations of that station, and assembling the right team to move that project forward.

On the education front, over the past two years the County has created new brand and visual identities for Middlesex College and Middlesex County Magnet Schools to better showcase the academic and career training opportunities these institutions provide to students of all ages from all corners of the County.

Moreover, the County and RWJBarnabas Health’s Cancer Institute Workforce Educational Partnership initiative, which will connect students from Middlesex College and the Magnet Schools with customized training and curricula, is also moving forward with support from the County’s Department of Economic Development.

Finally, building off the success of the County’s Telehealth program which launched in 2021, Rios announced the launch of a new Behavioral Health Program. This new initiative will build on the County’s campaign to end the stigma related to mental health issues and substance use disorders, and help ensure residents who are battling these issues, or who have loved ones who are, receive the support they need. The initiative will launch next month with a round table discussion that brings together crucial voices from the health care community.

Rios concluded by emphasizing that the County is committed to the wellbeing of those who call Middlesex County home and will continue to invest in their future.

“I know that when we talk about improving our residents’ quality of life, it can seem like an abstract goal,” said Rios. “But the investments I’ve outlined this evening are not abstract – they are real, tangible investments that we as a County are making into infrastructure, programs, and services that directly benefit our families.”

 

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MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ

 

Middlesex County is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, three universities, 19 park systems, and world-class healthcare and research facilities making it one of the nation’s most dynamic regions and a leader in technology, transportation, the arts, and food innovation. As one of the most diverse populations in the country, Middlesex County is home to over 860,000 residents living throughout 25 municipalities. The County’s award-winning Middlesex County Magnet Schools system and two-year Middlesex College uphold its position as #1 in the state for best schools, offering secondary and postsecondary education and workforce development programs that create a unique ecosystem in which opportunities abound. Conveniently located between New York and Philadelphia, Middlesex County is a leading destination for businesses and residents alike to live, work, and play – and has been since the 17th century. For more information, visit middlesexcountynj.gov and find us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

 

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