FMERA Head Defends New Ft Monmouth Tenant
Fort Monmouth’s first tenant since the Army’s departure has already stirred up some controversy, however the head of the authority charged with revitalizing the land believes everything is headed in the right direction.
The Oceanport software company CommVault is currently in the process of acquiring 55 acres in the Tinton Falls region of Fort Monmouth to open its new headquarters. However, several Oceanport legislators spoke out against the move which would have the company relocate several miles. Their claim is that it’s “job shifting” rather than the job creation the which the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) has promised to do.
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Bruce Steadman, executive director of FMERA, says CommVault contacted the state expressing interest in their expansion and the possible jobs it will create, and looking at several locations both within and outside of the state.
“When they’re talking about possible creating up to two thousand brand new jobs, and taking the five hundred jobs that are here now to a neighboring state, then New Jersey’s job retention program kicks in.” says Steadman.
Steadman notes that when CommVault showed interest in the plot of land in Fort Monmouth they had to submit a Request For Offer to Purchase which FMERA considered.
“We received four proposals for the parcel in question.” Says Steadman, adding “and CommVault’s was rated the highest by an independent evaluation process.”
The FMERA board approved CommVault’s purchase and sale agreement, and Steadman says he expects it to be executed within the next couple of weeks.
Steadman notes keeping the technology giant within the state will be a huge factor for the local economy.
“This multimillion dollar company who is traded on the NASDAQ will be staying within New Jersey, and making an investment of anywhere from 80 million to maybe as high as a couple of hundred million.”
Adding there will be two thousand new jobs created as well.
One of the critics of the plan has been Oceanport Councilman Joseph Irace, who criticized FMERA for heralding a move that retains a local business rather than attracts new out of state ones, as they originally stated. Steadman on the other hand believes this move could have a domino effect in helping attracted more expanding and dynamic jobs to the area.
“By being able to keep them here, it sends a message to other similar technology businesses around the country that New Jersey still carries that reputation and is offering a very competitive process to offer new jobs.”
Steadman says he has heard Irace’s complaints, but notes both the councilman and Oceanport Mayor Michael Mahon were explained the situation. He explains while an effort to have CommVault stay in Oceanport was made, it wasn’t a good fit for the company so what’s best for the state had to be done.
“It was painful for us to see them [CommVault] leave Oceanport to move to Tinton Falls” says Steadman, “but it would have been a lot more painful for the state of New Jersey to have them leave for Pennsylvania or Virginia or New York.”
The FMERA head says he understands the difficulties that base redevelopment presents, but notes the vast array of positives Fort Monmouth has.
“We’re fortunate here because we have 1,100 acres in an outstanding location with some pretty great facilities ten minutes from the Ocean in a portion of New Jersey that’s known as a base for intellectual capitol.”
Pointing out there have been 150 meetings in the past 14-15 months with investors and developers from around the world.
He does acknowledge there are many unique challenges that come for a community when a large military community leaves. In addition to the economic foundation, he says the social fabric of the community changes dramatically.
“I’m convinced Monmouth County will thrive and so will New Jersey when we put these stepping stones in place.”