City of Plainfield NJEDA-Innovation Challenge Planning Grant

In October 2019, the City of Plainfield was awarded a New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Innovation Challenge grant. The overarching goal of this state program is to catalyze planning and key investments that would position New Jersey cities and regions to capture future innovation-driven growth. The focus of the Plainfield grant is to leverage high speed communication technologies to revitalize the West End Industrial Corridor – a tract of land southwest of Downtown Plainfield that is zoned as light industrial and bordered closely by residential neighborhoods.

The New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII) was selected as the lead partner to deliver the scope of work set forth by the City of Plainfield. iNeighborhoods, a licensed engineering firm, supported the business, economic and technical telecommunications evaluation.

Figure 1. NJII NJEDA Innovation Challenge Grant target area.

While this primary deliverable for this project is a set of technology recommendations, the NJII team recognizes that technology is a means to an end – not the end itself. In fact, lessons learned from early successes in deploying next generation communication technology indicate the need to first establish a “use case” – a specific situation or need to which a product or service can be applied. As such, the project team approached this engagement by asking the following questions: “What is a high potential direction of economic development for Plainfield? And, how can organizations and resources thoughtfully align with technology to accelerate progress in that direction?”

Figure 2. NJII NJEDA Innovation Challenge Grant utility substation network access.

Collectively answering these questions, quantitatively and qualitatively, provides a destination around which the community can mobilize and a target toward which technology can be deployed.

For a Story Map of this project please click HERE

For additional information about this project, please click HERE.