Pedigo takes the reins of growing SOVCA

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SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — The South Orange Village Center Alliance recently had a changing of the guard, as Steven Pedigo took over as the organization’s chairman and several new officers were elected to lead the organization, which represents South Orange’s downtown business district.

Pedigo, a resident of South Orange since 2014, is the SOVCA’s second chairman and takes the reins from Matt Glass. Officers on the committee include Mark Murphy, owner of Mark Murphy’s Music, the vice chairman; Deborah Engel, founder and owner of Work and Play, the secretary; and Mark Hartwyk, South Orange Parking Authority executive director, the treasurer. South Orange Village Trustee Steve Schnall remains the liaison between the village Board of Trustees and the SOVCA.

“I do city urban development for a living,” Pedigo, a professor and faculty director at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate Urban Lab, said in a phone interview with the News-Record on July 19. “I think the fact that I know how to develop will help.”

The SOVCA has been in existence since 2012, and manages the downtown business district of South Orange. Pedigo said that, as he begins his tenure as chairman, he wants to focus on the look and feel of the downtown.

“My key focus is to make sure that if feels good and the aesthetic looks good,” he said. “The look and feel can have an impact on the district. Also, one of the things that we could be better about are the businesses’ needs and strengthening those connections. I want to make sure that they are connected to us and make sure we can benefit fully from each other.”

In a press release from the SOVCA on July 18, Executive Director Bob Zuckerman thanked Glass for his service and praised his accomplishments.

“It is impossible to overstate the enormous contribution Matt has made to South Orange Village Center over these six years,” Zuckerman said. He cited the “Everybody Belongs Here” — an initiative in which signs welcoming people of all backgrounds into South Orange businesses were displayed across town — as one of Glass’s successes.

“Matt and I are pretty different,” Pedigo said. “I’m more analytical and Matt has been a relationship builder, which is something that I want to continue. Just because he’s stepping down doesn’t mean I won’t reach out.”

While Pedigo has plans for what he wants to do as the chairman of the SOVCA, he knows that there are already a lot of positive changes happening in South Orange’s downtown.

“There’s a lot that’s great,” he said. “I came from Boston to work at NYU, and was looking for a place that had the walkability that South Orange has. The organization has done a great job with events, like Play Day. We’re measuring the success and thinking about the strategies to do other things better.”

Pedigo said he is looking forward to the SOVCA’s first ever business summit, which will be held Monday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m. at 1 W. South Orange Ave. in South Orange. The summit invites South Orange business owners to give SOVCA feedback, network with each other and share new ideas.

“That’s where we can get a sense of the connections that have been made already,” Pedigo said. “It’s not course correction, it’s picking up the great work that Matt did and working on it to build something bigger.”

Photos Courtesy of SOVCA