Gov. Phil Murphy’s trip to Europe is proving to be lucrative for the North Jersey economy.
Murphy, in Ireland in an effort to advocate for more economic activity between the nation and the state, is off to a promising start with the April 25 announcement that on-highway service plaza operator Applegreen is making a $126 million investment into the state, including making its U.S. headquarters in Glen Rock.
“As a proud Irish-American, I am thrilled to be in Dublin and joined by Applegreen, Ireland’s foremost service plaza operator, to announce the relocation of its US Travel Plaza Headquarters to New Jersey,” said Murphy.
New Glen Rock Headquarters
Separately, Murphy and his wife toured Trinity College on day one of their trip, and the New Jersey delegation joined them later on to tour the Guinness Storehouse.
But the business of the state was the headliner on the next day with the new that Applegreen will run its U.S. operation out of Glen Rock, planning to add at least 100 new jobs in finance, administration, development, and logistics to the region.
Redeveloping New Jersey Service Plaza
“We are thrilled to announce our new Travel Plaza Headquarters,” said Elizabeth Pierce, President of Applegreen USA Operations. “Northern New Jersey proved an ideal location for our headquarters as it is centrally located amidst many states in which we operate, is close to several major airports and offers top talent for our rapidly growing business.”
The company currently operates 121 U.S. site locations, according to its website, and offers both own-brand and nationally recognized food brands like Burger King, Subway, 7-Eleven, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Pizza Hut, and Mama DeLuca’s Pizza.
As part of the deal, Applegreen will redevelop all of the Garden State’s 21 on-highway service plazas, which is expected to create some 800 new jobs over the coming years. The company will additionally focus on electric vehicle charging at the plazas.
Praise for Applegreen
“Applegreen is a world-class travel infrastructure partner who will generate significant economic growth for the state and bring innovation and expertise to the redevelopment of New Jersey’s 21 on-highway services plazas,” said Murphy. “We welcome the hundreds of new jobs that Applegreen will bring to New Jersey and look forward to building a strong partnership that drives our state’s innovation economy forward.”
The Woodrow Wilson and Molly Pitcher travel plazas in Hamilton and Cranbury, respectively, will be the first two plazas to be redeveloped, with completion expected before Independence Day.
The governor’s office later in the day announced the signing of three Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) between New Jersey academic and real estate entities, a top Irish tech universities and a prominent startup accelerator.
Links Between Schools, Businesses
The MOUs aim to create mutually beneficial opportunities and forge collaboration in innovative projects that foster entrepreneurship, business development, career development, and international education.
The first MOU was signed between New Jersey City University (NJCU) and Atlantic Technological University (ATU), calling for connecting companies participating in the ATU incubator programs and companies aligned with NJCU’s School of Business and the Guarini Institute for International Education and Economic Mobility, with the ecosystem in New Jersey and the west and northwest of Ireland respectively.
A second MOU is between NJCU and Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC) with each signee agreeing to connect companies for the purpose of business development and knowledge-sharing. NJCU will provide access to workspace for startups associated with GEC as a soft-landing to test the U.S. market. In turn, GEC will offer experiential learning opportunities and invite NJCU faculty and students to visit the GEC and learn more about the Irish tech ecosystem.
The last agreement is between New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), Choose New Jersey and ATU. This collaboration will promote foreign direct investment; enhance the global competitiveness of New Jersey and Irish companies; and support collaborative research and development in areas of common interest. Choose New Jersey will act as an interface and provide support to ATU startups, and ATU will actively educate its community on the advantages of a New Jersey location.
Murphy promoted the MOU’s as part of his administration’s efforts to help Garden State institutions in identifying and partnering with entities that can help grow New Jersey’s economy and create good-paying jobs.
“The partnerships solidified today are an example of the fruits of those efforts. The MOU’s…will further propel New Jersey’s path toward economic progress as we welcome new partnerships, opportunities, and perspectives to our state,” said the Governor. “Today’s announcement will facilitate international collaborations that will spur economic growth and build a vibrant technology ecosystem rooted in New Jersey’s legacy of innovation.”