"Fort Monmouth will be the epicenter of where we will put ourefforts of making sure we have sustainable growth in New Jersey,"Corzine told some 500 attendees of a special meeting on the campusof Brookdale Community College here. "I have confidence that thisgreat installation can be repositioned. It's been the centerpieceof our defense establishment since before World War II."

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The closure of Fort Monmouth, as reported by GlobeSt.com,is part of the latest round of such closures orchestrated by BRAC.The base's functions--primarily satellite communications,technology and intelligence gathering--are being transferred toAberdeen, MD. Fort Monmouth's facilities sprawl over some 1,100acres in Eatontown, Tinton Falls and Oceanport.

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In his remarks, Corzine endorsed the basis of Tech Preserve,specifically, a proposal by former Fort Monmouth head of researchRobert Giordano that would create a private company that would, inturn, hire many of the base's current employees. The plan envisionsthe new private company continuing to provide the base's functionsuntil final closure, and subsequently seeking other governmentcontracts. Surveys have indicated that only about 20% of the base'sexisting civilian employees are interested in relocating toMaryland after the base closes.

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"It's a complicated idea," Corzine said, noting that it couldbecome the focal point of a larger tech corridor development in theMonmouth County region. "But I feel that we have the talent andproven record of success here. I'm not saying that it's a panaceaor 'silver bullet,' but we want to pursue the idea."

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The larger scope of redeveloping Fort Monmouth's sprawlingacreage is in the hands of the year-old Fort Monmouth EconomicRevitalization Planning Authority, a 10-member panel headed byformer private sector developer Frank Cosentino. In its year ofexistence, the group has staffed up, obtained $1 million in fundingfrom the state and other seed money, and is currently siftingthrough land requests from nonprofit and government groups lookingfor free or low-cost property within the fort.

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