Middlesex County reaches key milestone in Community, Innovation and Opportunity strategic investment initiative

Leaders expect construction on multipurpose venue, student center and magnet school to begin this fall

In an event at Middlesex College that showcased the completed designs of a multipurpose venue, a student center and the new Middlesex County Magnet School, Middlesex County recently displayed the completion of design in Phase One of its Community, Innovation and Opportunity strategic investment plan.

The completed efforts mark a pivotal point where progress becomes tangible, and construction is poised to begin. Attendees dove into the new designs through virtual reality technology, enabling a true immersive experience.

Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ronald Rios obviously was thrilled.

Ronald Rios speaks at the event.

“We’ve been touting this plan since November 2022 and we are beginning to see our vision take shape. The CIO plan isn’t merely an aspiration or a ‘hope’ of ours, it’s a reality,” he said. “For all of us who call Middlesex County home, the CIO strategy will be a game-changer in our economy and the quality of our lives — this includes improving the lives of students, faculty, and staff that work and attend this college.”

Designs have been completed on three structures comprising Phase One of the CIO Plan, and upon construction, will bolster Middlesex College and the Magnet School district, as well as enhance community engagement:

  • The Multipurpose Community Venue will be a state-of-the-art location for concerts, cultural events and sports such as baseball, soccer, or lacrosse. The 3,500-seat space will be built to Big Ten, NCAA and Minor League Baseball certifications, and relevant FIFA certifications for soccer. For gatherings, special events and for a more premium spectator experience, there will be eight boxes, and food and beverage accommodation.
  • The Middlesex College Student Center, a 35,000-square-foot space, will be a centerpiece of student life and culture, complete with game rooms, meeting and study spaces and a fully operational restaurant. The Middlesex College Culinary Arts Department will leverage the space to increase enrollment and give students real-world, hands-on culinary experiences.
  • A new 75,550-square-foot Middlesex County Magnet School will be constructed to offer new majors and educational opportunities for county students, and will also enhance the dual enrollment program, which allows Middlesex County Magnet School high school students to enroll in Middlesex College classes. This new Magnet School will also bring new degree programs, including sustainable energy technology; information, communications and cybersecurity technology; biotechnology and plant science; and more.

The completion of the design milestone is a key point where Middlesex County can go out to bid for construction, with the goal of a potential groundbreaking event in the fall.

Officials with Middlesex College athletes at the event.

Rios was joined by Middlesex County Administrator John Pulomena, Middlesex College President Mark McCormick and Middlesex County Magnet Schools Superintendent Jorge Diaz.

McCormick noted the impact of what is ahead.

“These amazing additions to our campus will provide new and enhanced opportunities for our students to learn, study together and engage in a wide range of extracurricular activities, including athletics and student clubs,” he said. “Working closely with Middlesex County and the contractors, college administration will seek to minimize disruption to day-to-day campus operations and is committed to regular communication with the college community regarding the construction phase.”

Diaz agreed.

“Students from every municipality in the county are eligible to attend our Magnet Schools. Building this new Magnet School means we will be able to serve even more students,” he said. “Its location here on campus will make it convenient for our students to participate in dual enrollment programs. It will also help us to continue building our relationship with the college and the county.”

Also commemorating the announcement was U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.), a crucial partner in obtaining critical federal investment in this project.

“Higher education is an investment in our country’s future and economic strength. This innovative new plan will help meet the challenges students in the classroom face today and bolster Middlesex County’s reputation as an institute for learning and a destination for cultural and sporting events,” he said. “I’m glad to see that federal funding from the American Rescue Plan is a critical part of Middlesex College’s transformation into an educational beacon for tomorrow’s workforce. I’ll continue to help deliver the funding our universities and colleges need to support a well-rounded education for students of all ages.”

First announced in November 2022 as a part of Middlesex County’s Destination 2040 Strategic Plan, in partnership with the state of New Jersey, the Community, Innovation, and Opportunity strategic investment plan will expand the educational offerings of both Middlesex College and the Middlesex County Magnet School system and will turn the college’s campus and surrounding facilities into a multifaceted destination for the region.