The League: In the cash-filled state, sellers seek municipal business

The New Jersey League of Municipalities’ annual gathering brings together elected officials from more than 500 cities and districts from across the state. It also brings in thousands of companies that want their business.

The three-day fair, arguably the largest in the state, is packed with numerous industries: Need a new vehicle? There are dozens to choose from. … Do you need a new playground or sports fields? Got that too. … Interested in infrastructure upgrades? Not only are there dozens of companies looking to do the job, there are plenty of consulting firms ready to help your city get ready.

There were even more companies ready to chase away your Canada geese.

With that in mind, ROI-NJ conducted an unofficial survey based on the following question: With the millions of dollars that have flowed into municipalities from numerous federal grant programs – and, soon, the federal infrastructure bill – are there more money on the street, ready to be spent?

The reactions were varied: the most important variable was the city you are doing business with and the service you are selling. Here are three:

Matt Miller, director of marketing at Sea Girt-based Marturano Recreation Co., a supplier of park and recreation equipment in New Jersey and the Northeast, said business is booming.

Miller, who has been with the company for 13 years, said it substantially exceeded its pre-COVID revenues by more than 30%.

“It’s a noticeable difference,” he said.

Miller credits government grants and cities’ desire to create more inclusive playgrounds.

Marilyn Grabowski, president of Atlantic Infrared, said its asphalt paving business is also growing, even as prices are rising due to inventory shortages.

This, he said, is how he knows municipalities have money to work with.

“We thought the cities were going to cut some of the projects we bid on 12-18 months ago due to the increase in fuel and asphalt prices, but they haven’t,” he said. “We predicted a drop and it hasn’t come.”

Grabowski, who said his business took a hit during COVID, is now up 40%.

Andrew Holt, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Suburban Consulting Engineers in Flanders, said the company has not seen any notable increases in revenue from grants to municipalities as part of the COVID-19 relief, but expects more opportunities soon.

When the money from the infrastructure bill reaches the local level, Holt expects to see the impact.

“This will definitely help,” he said.

And, when that time comes, SCE, a certified women-owned company, will be ready to take advantage of it. The company already has a tool on its website where it compares municipalities to potential funding sources, said Nicole Brown, head of customer development.

“What we’ve done is create a tool where our customers can get an understanding of the potential funding that may come in their infrastructure bill,” he said. “So, we’re connecting our customers to funding and talking to them about the process of getting that funding.”

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