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    South Orange-Maplewood, NJ — The publishers of VillageGreenNJ.com have announced the launch of NewJerseyNext.com, a new arts & culture, lifestyle, food and events site for the great state of New Jersey. NJNext.com presents a fully loaded, searchable-by-category calendar of events for New Jersey residents or those visiting the Garden State.

    The site also features articles exploring nightlife, restaurants, festivals, personalities and trends impacting the state and examines what’s cool and unexpected about living in New Jersey.

    “As Village Green became more and more successful, we were approached by restaurants, arts groups, musicians and event organizers from around the state — and the region — asking for coverage,” said NJNext.com co-founder Carolyn Parisi. “But we wanted to maintain the integrity of VillageGreenNJ.com as a hyperlocal news site.”

    “We also noticed that those arts groups, events and businesses needed an affordable way to reach their targeted audience through advertising and calendar listings — and that traditional vehicles had either disappeared or weren’t performing for them,” said Mary Mann, NJNext.com’s other co-founder. As Parisi and Mann looked around at what was available to New Jersey readers, they found that most event and calendar sites tended to narrowly focus on a specific category or demographic: the arts or live music, children’s events, etc. “Many of the sites that are out there cover just one thing or cater to one group of people, but New Jersey has so much more to offer,” said Mann. Also, said Parisi, “Most of them just weren’t visually appealing or fun to read.” NJNext.com was born.

    From the start, NJNext.com has showcased personalities, places, events and trends from all around New Jersey – with plans to expand to the larger NY/NJ/CT metropolitan region with articles on awesome festivals in New York City, museum tours in Philadelphia, day trips to the Hudson Valley and much more.

    NJNext.com is targeted to a wide range of readers, including millennials, young professionals without kids, families with children from preschool to teenagers, single folks of all ages, empty nesters, and seniors, suburbanites and city dwellers,” said Mann. “Whether you just moved here and are looking to explore your new home and find other like-minded people, or you’ve lived here for a while and want to know all that is available to you in your home state, we’ve got you covered!”

    Parisi and Mann both received on-the-ground training for running a digital news site from their days at Patch Media. Both left Patch before the mass reorganization under Hale Group in January 2014. Mann worked as Deputy Director for NJ News Commons at Montclair State University. Parisi had also freelanced for the New York Times Local and Baristanet. In 2014, the two began formulating plans for the launch of Village Green NJ to provide much-needed hyperlocal journalistic coverage of South Orange and Maplewood, NJ. Since its launch in the summer of 2014, Village Green has become the go-to news source for the area, now averaging 45,000 unique monthly visitors in a population area of 40,000 residents. The site also has thousands of social media followers as well as newsletter subscribers. Village Green often partners with the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University on grant-funded projects, most recently participating in “Voting Block” with WNYC Radio.

    NJNext.com contributing writers include freelance writer and former Patch editor Liz Alterman; Donny Levit, former editor of Bklyner.com and editor of New Pulp City; and freelance writer and contributing writer for FIDO Friendly magazine Elise Phillips Margulis. The Center for Cooperative Media contributed a $5,000 grant to build NJNext.com through its mobile lab initiative. Web Publisher PRO (www.webpublisherpro.com) designed the site. Logo design was provided by JeffGilligan.com.

    NJNext.com investor Mark Slade has watched Parisi and Mann provide journalistic, compelling local news coverage for Maplewood and South Orange and is excited to see what they can do on a regional level. Slade runs one of the top real estate sales teams (The Slade Real Estate Team at Keller Williams Mid-Town Direct) specializing in the NYC bedroom communities in Essex, Union & Morris County — the same areas NJ Next is targeting for its initial readership. Said Slade, “These towns are ready for a digital source of information that recognizes their lifestyle and suits the way they consume information — on their phones and on the train.”

    All in all, Parisi and Mann say they are excited to take their digital media skills to a larger audience. “New Jersey needs a site that reflects the fact that it is not a stop on the way to somewhere else,” said Parisi. “It’s the destination.”

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