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Middlesex County Hosts Sold-Out Business Summit

September 11, 2017
​Middlesex County’s first-ever Business Summit was a rousing success, attracting 200 business owners, entrepreneurs, government officials and representatives from
non-profit organizations and chambers of commerce. 

​The Summit, held Sept. 8 at the Rutgers Visitor Center in Piscataway, introduced the Middlesex County Resource Partnerships, a team of economic development professionals, who discussed the resources and services available provided by the County and its partners to help new business get established or grow existing ones.

The event also featured Craig Bowman, a cybersecurity expert, who addressed how businesses – both small and large – could combat cybersecurity risks.

“Middlesex County, I am proud to say, enables growth, innovation and progress by building successful partnerships and thinking creatively,” said Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios.

Rios explained that the County is able to offer best-in-class services to its residents and businesses by continually lowering the cost to run County government and maintaining a AAA bond rating, which enables the county to invest in technology and infrastructure to ensure workplace efficiency and the safety and wellbeing of its residents.

“Most importantly for today’s discussion, we have built strategic partnerships with neighboring counties, our municipalities and private-sector partners to boost our economy, save taxpayer dollars and provide outstanding service delivery.”

Freeholder Kenneth Armwood, Chair of the County’s Business Development and Education Committee, said: “We have a stellar cast of partners who collectively can answer any and all needs a business, organization or community may have.”

The partners at today’s summit included the Middlesex County Department of Business Development and Education, which hosted the event; the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce; Keep Middlesex Moving; Rutgers Small Business Development Center; the UCEDC, and the Regional Business Assistance Corporation.
Christina Youngblood, Vice President and Relationship Manager at PNC Bank, discussed her interactions with the County’s Economic and Business Development Office and the SBDC in helping one of her clients overcome challenges in trying to grow his business. In partnering with the various agencies, Youngblood said, her client now has the information needed to successfully implement growth.

Keynote speaker Craig Bowman, cybersecurity expert and Vice President of Advanced Solutions at Verizon, offered advice to attendees on how to avoid business-crippling cyber attacks.

“Regardless of why hacks happen, Cybersecurity takes personal responsibility,” he said. “You must be conscience of your account activity and credit score and monitor your financial life. The majority of breeches are due to a simple lack of security hygiene.”

Bowman later explained: “Small to medium businesses simply cannot handle cybersecurity in-house or by themselves; the cost and talent needed to sustain a decent defense isn’t feasible if an attacker picks you as a target. They must outsource the work to companies that can maintain the tools and talent needed to wage the war on cyber criminals and bring them to justice when they find them. Large cyber firms need to find more creative ways to provide quality services to groups of small businesses to make their services more affordable.  It will take partnership.”

Middlesex County officials said they intend to host future summits and webinars to educate the business community on various other topics and ways this partnership can help them.

Freeholder Armwood added: “Middlesex County is at the center of the state. We have the most Turnpike exits of any County in the state. The Northeast Corridor rail line is the busiest in the entire Northeast. We are where businesses need to be. We are spreading the word and will continue to work with our partners to attract new business and jobs and help our existing businesses grow. This will keep Middlesex County a great place to live, work and visit.”
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