The large employment anchors in the downtown - the State of New Jersey, the City of Trenton, Thomas Edison State University and Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) James Kearney Campus – are important downtown institutions and drivers for economic development. Staff, faculty, and students of these institutions are customers, as are their visitors, all of whom contribute significantly to the downtown economy. Colleges support retailers, service businesses, and hotels. They can also supply student residents to support these entities further. State and City employees are downtown customers, and potential future downtown residents who will further expand the downtown market for goods and services and they are a key component of the Downtown economy and an important part of its growth potential.
In addition, indirect economic benefits of these institutions can include spin-off businesses affiliated with the colleges and encourage additional private investment in the downtown office market, leading to additional employment opportunities. The potential expansion of educational offerings at MCCC downtown could amount to even greater economic opportunities. The City should ensure that downtown Trenton leverages these opportunities. The city must work with the colleges to identify opportunities to create downtown student housing, student life amenities, and to align their long-term development goals with the City’s master plan. Moreover, these partnerships should push to encourage other educational institutions to develop Downtown satellite campuses. For this to take shape, the City will need to demonstrate it can be an effective and efficient development partner. As such, it will have to implement changes to the City’s development application review process for efficiency, effectiveness, and a predictable and transparent approval process.
The City must also create partnerships with state and county officials to identify, agree on, and resolve issues that impede downtown and waterfront vibrancy as part of the Waterfront Reclamation and Redevelopment planning process.
Moreover, the City must encourage further consolidation and concentration of state offices downtown (see Encourage Further Consolidating and Concentration of State Offices Downtown Initiative
). The City must also work with the state to re-establish and promote the Live Where You Work Trenton program.
Finally, the City should work with all institutional partners to identify how they can support local retailers and restaurants and what impediments exist to employees patronizing local retailers and restaurants.