The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) is pleased to announce that Monmouth County has been awarded a $100,000 grant in conjunction with the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) in the pilot round of the Innovation Challenge. Monmouth County is seeking to facilitate the growth of an emerging technology cluster at Fort Monmouth, which already houses the headquarters of three technology companies, currently employing over 1,000 people on the former Fort.
This grant is extremely timely, as FMERA is preparing to release a Request for Offers to Purchase (RFOTP) on the McAfee Center parcel. In keeping with FMERA’s mission to create jobs and reinvigorate the regional economy, FMERA staff believes that the highest and best use for the McAfee Center parcel is the development of a mixed-use, technology campus.
“The McAfee Center is ideal for tech use and this grant will enable a successful bidder to secure an optimal user for the space,” said FMERA Director of Real Estate Dave Nuse. “The development of a technology campus is both consistent with the Reuse Plan and complementary to the growing technology community at Fort Monmouth.”
The McAfee Center parcel, along with the optional Tech South parcel, is a combined approximately 47 acres. The McAfee Center building features approximately 89,492 square feet in the main facility, which has eight raised-floor dry labs, an anechoic chamber and a 16-foot loading dock. The McAfee Center parcel includes nine additional buildings, three of which are in good condition for reuse.
FMERA hosted a showcase in July to introduce the property to the technology and real estate marketplaces. The RFOTP is expected to be released in late 2018.
In July, the EDA launched the Innovation Challenge through a Request for Qualifications/Proposals (RFQ/P), offering individual communities or teams of municipalities an opportunity to compete for planning awards of up to $100,000 to catalyze the growth of local ecosystems throughout New Jersey. Proposals were scored against pre-established evaluation criteria, including the plan’s ability to achieve one or more goals of the Innovation Challenge: strength of the established partnership, commitment of additional funding from partners, presence and strength of a defined collaborative stakeholder engagement process, evidence of the plan’s ability to grow the number of small businesses/attract employers, planning for solutions based on the use of new and emerging technologies, and an ability to execute the project or viability of the planning project. Applicants also received points based on their Municipal Revitalization Index (MRI) ranking.
On September 13, Governor Phil Murphy announced that the EDA would award $100,000 each to nine communities to advance plans to strengthen their local innovation ecosystems through the pilot round of the Innovation Challenge. According to EDA CEO Tim Sullivan, “the Innovation Challenge was created to help communities take the next step forward in building an inclusive, sustainable culture of entrepreneurship and innovation – whether they already had an established ecosystem or were just beginning.” The nine communities receiving awards for their planning proposals are: the City of Bridgeton, the City of New Brunswick, Passaic County, the City of Trenton, Atlantic County, the City of Atlantic City, Camden County, Union Township, and Monmouth County.