The League: In state flush with cash, vendors seek municipal business

Vendor expo at the League of Municipalities has something for everyone — if you’re looking to spend

The annual New Jersey League of Municipalities gathering brings elected officials from more than 500 towns and boroughs from all over the state. It also brings thousands of companies that want their business.

Thie three-day expo, likely the largest in the state, is filled with numerous industries: Need a new vehicle? There are dozens to choose from. … Need a new playground or sports fields? Got that, too. … Interested in infrastructure upgrades? There not only are dozens of companies looking to do the work, there are plenty of consulting firms ready to help your town prepare for it.

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

With that in mind, ROI-NJ did 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 — is more money on the street, ready to be spent?

The reactions were varied — with the biggest variable being what town you are doing business with and what service you are selling. Here’s a look at three:

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

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

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

Miller credits government grants as well as a desire by towns to create playgrounds that are more inclusive.

Marilyn Grabowski, president of Atlantic Infrared, said her asphalt paving business is up, too — even though prices are on the rise due to inventory shortages.

That, she said, is how she knows municipalities have money to work with.

“We thought towns would cut some of the projects we bid for 12-18 months ago because of the rising price of fuel and asphalt, but they have not,” she said. “We anticipated a dropoff and it didn’t come.”

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

Andrew Holt, an executive vice president and chief financial officer at Suburban Consulting Engineers in Flanders, said the company did not see any noticeable increase in revenue from grants to municipalities as part of COVID-19 relief, but he is expecting more opportunities soon.

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

“That will definitely help,” he said.

And, when that time comes, SCE — a certified woman-owned business — will be ready to take advantage of it. The company already has a tool on its website where it matches municipalities with potential funding sources, client development manager Nicole Brown said.

“What we’ve done is created a tool where our clients can get an understanding of the potential funding that could be coming in the infrastructure bill,” she said. “So, we are connecting our clients to the funding — and talking them through the process of how to get that funding.”