Washington Township, New Jersey
Communication is key
Business View Magazine interviews Joann Gattinelli, Mayor of Washington Township, New Jersey, for our focus on Economic Development in U.S. Towns & Cities
There is validity in the adage that working together helps to get the job done. This universal truth can be applied to most towns of varying sizes, where success can often boil down to the commitment to work collaboratively with both residents and key developers to help push the town agenda forward.
While maintaining productive lines of communications with key parties often forms a part of a community’s overall operating agenda, for Washington Township, New Jersey it is simply the way business is conducted. Other towns of similar size would be wise to take a page out of its playbook. The community has been able to master the ability to keep open channels of communication with all parties, while operating overwhelmingly on the principle of collaboration to help shape its overall direction.
Washington Township’s Mayor, Joann Gattinelli, is also able to see the big picture. She understands that establishing strong partnerships and allowing all voices to come to the table will enable objectives to properly align and will ultimately steer the city in its desired direction while keeping key development initiatives top of the agenda. “For new businesses that have come in and for the businesses that have been able to sustain over the last few years, there has been help out there, “Mayor Gattinelli says. “We have a well thought out process and I believe that, in all aspects, Washington Township comes in on top. Communication is key.”
With well-developed processes in place geared towards helping prospective new businesses in the planning stage, the town actively points interested parties to zoning and planning chairs that will guide them through the process and be available to answer questions. “We want folks that are interested in coming into the town to have the red carpet rolled out for them,” Mayor Gattinelli states.
A significant city initiative has been the establishment of regular roundtables that are designed to utilize the open communication that Washington Township is built on. Being able to speak to the right people about upcoming city projects, while they are still in the planning stages, helps to streamline costs for developers and ensure that a project will be chosen to proceed based on the real needs of the city. With access to the city solicitor, city engineer, and the inclusion of the zoning department, each proposed project or new business venture is able to openly discuss its needs with the roadmap the city is following for any economic development initiatives.
“This process has worked and has helped to establish relationships while bringing in new and unique businesses that set the town apart from other surrounding towns,” Mayor Gattinelli explains. “We are trying to bring people in for a destination and not just opening up another business. We want to look at the overall development and ask questions such as how it fits within our ordinances. Even over the last two years, our progress has been enormous. We lost, thank goodness, very few businesses throughout the pandemic, due to our communication efforts – we utilize social media to the max because this is something that we want to get out there. We are excited about new businesses and sustaining the businesses that are already here.”
Blessed with an enviable location and beautiful natural surroundings, Washington Township has a lot to be proud of. Over the years, the town has established itself as a popular place to live and work. With just a 20-minute commute to Philadelphia and reasonable driving distance to Atlantic City, residents can enjoy living in an area that provides a community feel and not be left with a daunting commute.
Washington Township boasts the largest municipal park in New Jersey that provides endless outdoor fun for families and encourages a healthy lifestyle for the town’s close to 50,000 residents. Mayor Gattinelli points out that the community encourages its residents to take advantage of its natural gifts. Outdoor attributes also include Cedar Lake for fishing and it provides a great place to take dogs out provided they are on leashes, as mandated by the town.
“We have a little bit of everything here to offer. The last two years have really made us look within ourselves and see what is most important, which continues to be our health,” Gattinelli highlights. “We should always utilize what we have and prioritize exercise, health, mind, and body.” For seniors, there is also a host of activities on tap provided by the town’s senior center including the ever-popular walking club. “They join the senior center because they want to make friendships and they want this to be their destination. This is where they want to live,” Gattinelli explains.
Washington Township also prioritizes education for its school-age residents. “We have a great school system from kindergarten all the way up and there is so much offered. We also have great recreation and sports programs – we are known for all that,” says Gattinelli.
Local businesses of all sizes line the streets of Washington Township and new business ventures are always encouraged, provided that the town feels they are a unique option and could represent a great fit for its valued residents. One large-scale business venture that has generated up to 2,200 positions associated with it, is the $225 million addition to Jefferson Washington Township Hospital. The expansion has propelled the town into the enviable position of being the medical hub of southern New Jersey. According to Gattinelli, “Jefferson’s huge presence and success as a research hospital have spurred every other major medical health system to have offices here in Washington Township. There is a third medical office building that is under construction right now. So it has expanded pretty dramatically with all the other health systems that are in the Philadelphia and southern New Jersey region.”
Sustainability efforts are equally as impressive as the economic business development projects that Washington Township currently enjoys. With a silver rating for environmental sustainability, the township is putting considerable resources into offering green and recycling options for its residents.
“We are constantly looking at acquiring new grants so we can take sustainability efforts further. We have folks that are very conscientious about it and it is just a constant effort. We meet once a month and we are looking to go gold… that is something we work very hard for,” says Gattinelli.
Thriving marketing efforts are underway, led by the Mayor and her dedicated staff, to help spread the word about the many benefits that living and working in Washington Township can offer a future resident.
When asked what would further enhance such an enviable place to call home, Gattinelli answers unequivocally, “We would love to have the main street. We have worked diligently with developers and property owners trying to convince them to come in and let us have our main street and have gone to the table quite a few different times. The town square could include a hotel that will include entertainment, restaurants and just activities to be able to get groups together, lots of live music, and things of that kind that folks in town would absolutely latch on to.”
With the potential for this type of development on the economic development agenda and the impressive growth of the area so far, Washington Township will only serve to be a first-rate option for residents looking for a great place to put down roots.
Click The Cover To View Or Download The Brochure
AT A GLANCE
Washington Township, New Jersey
What: A growing, business-friendly community; population approx. 50,000
Where: Gloucester County, NJ
GT Mid Atlantic – www.gtmidatlantic.com
“Having been named a CASE Diamond Dealer for 7 years running and both Takeuchi and Rubble Master’s 2021 North American Dealer of the Year, GT Mid Atlantic is New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Philadelphia’s #1 source for heavy equipment sales, rental, parts and service!”