Perth Amboy’s Economic Chief Headed To Florida

PERTH AMBOY — Perth Amboy’s loss will be a big gain for a county on the east coast of Florida nestled between the famed Daytona International Speedway and St. Augustine, the historic city founded in 1565 after previously being explored by Juan Ponce de León.

Helga Van Eckert is probably headed to Florida to spearhead a new economic development department for the Flagler County jobs council.

Flagler County Administrator Craig Coffey said he would offer her a job this week as the first executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity. If she accepts, she is expected to start around the end of February.

She was recommended for the job by Bob Alex, who had been a zoning commissioner in Perth Amboy before his retirement seven years ago.

Alex had worked for seven years with vanEckert, who headed Perth Amboy’s redevelopment agency throughout most of former mayor Joe Vas’ tenure.

Flagler County was ranked the fastest-growing county in the nation by the US Census Bureau from 2000 to 2005. Its population sprung from 49,832 in 2000 to 95,696 in 2010.

The area, a popular tourist attraction, will be a different kind of challenge than the aging, urban Garden State brownfields where Van Eckert accomplished a long list of achievements including creation more than 4,500 new jobs with more than 600 businesses that have participated in The Perth Amboy Enterprise Zone.

After six years as a project manager with environmental engineering firms, Van Eckert became the Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency executive director in July 2000.

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