The debate is over. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy recently put to rest a longstanding argument by officially recognizing Central Jersey as a distinct region of the state.
With his signature in late August, Murphy, a Democrat, revamped the state’s tourism map to spotlight the unique region.
The new law confirms Central New Jersey comprises Hunterdon, Mercer, Somerset, and Middlesex counties. The legislation further mandates the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism to bolster promotion for Central Jersey enterprises.
The bill’s signing ceremony took place in Somerville’s historic district at the Wallace House, formerly inhabited by a signer of New Jersey’s inaugural Constitution. The venue is historically significant as it served as George Washington’s winter base during the First Middlebrook encampment of the Revolutionary War.
Flanked by Hunterdon County Commissioner John Lanza, fellow Commissioners from Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset counties, and members of the New Jersey Legislature, Governor Murphy reflected on Central Jersey’s profound historical ties.
“The region has a rich history dating back to the American Revolution, with a legacy graced by historical figures like George Washington. And today, Central Jersey is home to some of the nation’s leading public universities and host to beautiful agricultural landscapes and activities for tourists to immerse themselves in. We eagerly anticipate the opportunity to share these wonders with the world,” Murphy remarked.
Echoing Murphy’s sentiments, Lanza expressed his pride, stating, “I am proud to say that Central Jersey is officially on the map! The State has finally recognized a place we always knew existed. It is a place with a distinct landscape and culture: the place where we all live. The signing of this bill recognizes the region’s history and its heretofore untapped resources: recreation and tourism.”
In addition to promoting Central Jersey’s businesses, the law reallocates federal aid geared towards tourism marketing to regions requiring economic upliftment. It stipulates that a minimum of 10 percent of the annual budget for the Division of Travel and Tourism be earmarked for agritourism. This encompasses farm visits, artisan beverage creators, farm-centric eateries, farmers’ markets, and agrarian-themed celebrations.
This legislation will benefit Hunterdon County’s active ‘Explore Hunterdon’ tourism campaign, which underscores the county’s thriving agritourism sector and its heritage-rich towns.