Town to be awarded for economic success

Voorhees Township is soon to be recognized for Town Center and other economic success within the last year.

Following its announcement at the Sept. 19 town hall meeting, the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders will recognize Voorhees Township for its distinguished progress during the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholderst on Oct. 18 in Mt. Laurel.

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According to Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders Director Louis Cappelli Jr., the county chooses one Camden County town annually to recognize for strides in economic development.

“Voorhees Township’s leadership has resulted in the transformation of a shopping center and the shopping center neighborhood that was in decay into a vibrant neighborhood,” Cappelli said.

Considering every town, Cappelli said the board looked for the municipality that made the biggest impact on the community, and with the success of the Voorhees Town Center, the township stood out among the rest this year.

“The governing body in Voorhees serves as a shining example of how a municipality can affect economic development within a community,” Cappelli said.

He added that towns such as Voorhees, Somerdale and Clementon have all set prime examples of how a municipality can stimulate economic development within the township.

Deputy Mayor Harry Platt, liaison to the Economic Development Committee, said this is not the first time Voorhees has been distinguished for its achievements in economical development, receiving an award for ratable growth in the late 90s and another for growth more than 15 years ago.

“Their commitment has remained steady every year in good economical times and in bad,” Platt said in regard to the Economical Development Committee.

Platt also attributes much of the township’s economic success to the planning and zoning boards for their strategic decisions, making Voorhees more business friendly as the land is developed.

“It’s part of a balanced community approach,” Platt said. “As we get to the end of developed land being used, it’s a good way to move.”

Platt also credits the former Echelon Mall owners Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust with realizing the full potential of the property and maintaining a relationship with the community.

Platt said moving forward in the township, the Economic Development Committee approved a strategic plan for economic development on Sept. 3, which is currently in the process of being certified.

“It’s a road map to moving forward,” Platt said.

He said the committee will also be working with the zoning and planning boards to change some ordinances to help property owners “rehabilitate” their property if they do not have the means to do so.

Platt explained that with 97 percent of Voorhees developed, the goal of the committee is to make sure properties are always full and rehabilitated, ensuring they are part of the ratable tax base in the years to come.

“The key to the future is redevelopment,” Platt said.

While the recognition for the township’s distinguished efforts in economic development is not accompanied with a monetary award, the township will receive a check at the 8th Annual Tri-County Economic Summit in the amount of $43,500 as part of the shared Community Development Block Grant.

The money from the Community Development Block Grant will be applied to senior citizen services within the township, according to township administrator Lawrence Spellman, and will be appropriated to cover the cost of the senior bus, and for the salary of the senior bus driver and the senior service coordinator.

The 8th Annual Tri-County Economic Summit will be held on Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. in The Westin Hotel and Conference Center in Mt. Laurel.

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