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(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) – Just days after serving as a panelist in a White House summit about the challenges facing older suburbs, Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey today announced she and other New Jersey representatives who attended the summit plan to work on a strategy to bring attention to the needs of New Jersey’s “first” or older suburbs to Washington.

Jasey (D-Essex) served as a panelist on the “Forum on First Suburbs, Inclusion, Sustainability and Economic Growth.” Jasey also chaired the summit’s New Jersey delegation.

Jasey and Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca, who also attended the summit, helped organize the New Jersey delegation to plan next steps. Janey and DeLuca were invited to participate by the New Jersey Regional Coalition (NJRC), one of the co-sponsors of the summit.

The summit, co-sponsored by and held at the White House on Monday, featured national experts who discussed the history of America’s suburbs, home ownership and the growth of the middle class. The summit also emphasized their importance to the country’s future, and how investing in their infrastructure is vital to creating jobs and growing the economy, said Jasey.

“The White House made it clear it wants to hear from local leaders throughout the country about what we need and how they can support our efforts to promote inclusion, rebuild our first suburbs and grow jobs,” said Jasey. “I was energized and encouraged by the ideas and enthusiasm of people from Colorado, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Arizona, Ohio, Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, California and New Jersey. We are all facing similar challenges and can benefit from sharing ideas and solutions.”

Jasey said the New Jersey delegation at the summit met and shared information about challenges faced in their towns and schools, and the need for partnership to develop strategies to address those issues.“We talked about strength in numbers and the need to involve people at the local level to recognize and work on solutions that would be mutually beneficial,” she said.

Jasey said the delegation plans to meet in late August, along with other stakeholders who did not make the summit, to develop a strategy to engage as many of New Jersey’s first suburbs as possible, culminating in a statewide meeting involving the White House in early 2012.

Other topics covered at the summit were the migration of business out of the cities and the development of what are now referred to as the “inner ring” or “first suburbs”, which are aging and require attention to their infrastructure, tax base and schools, said Jasey.

During her panel discussion, Jasey talked about “race and schools”, the challenges of addressing the academic achievement gap, the focus on “intentional integration” in the South Orange and Maplewood communities, working with the Community Coalition on Race and the need for state and federal policies that support their work.“We are eliminating the achievement gap and would welcome the opportunity to be a model for other districts, especially if we can access grants to support our initiatives,” said Jasey.

Jasey was one of an exclusive group of 140 municipal, business and community leaders from around the country who have been invited to participate in the forum. The event was co-hosted by the White House, the New Jersey Regional Coalition and Building ONE America.

“Like Building ONE America and NJRC, I want to see policies that help older New Jersey suburbs, including a housing policy that increases economic diversity of wealthy towns to reduce pressure on places like South Orange, and full funding of a school funding formula that rewards older suburbs that are economically diverse,” said Jasey.