This article was originally published in the November 2018 Trenton Downtowner.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s recently announced New Jersey State Capital Partnership is an indication that the State of New Jersey has once again discovered that it occupies a city that has both potential and needs.

The executive order was launched in late September and is “designed to harness state support and resources to spur economic development in Trenton and help chart a new course for New Jersey’s capital city,” according to the initiative’s announcement.

The Department of the Treasury is the state agency charged with partnering with the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Transportation (DOT), NJ Transit, Economic Development Authority (EDA), Department of Law and Public Safety (LPS), and other state agencies “to establish a framework for aligning state resources with the City of Trenton’s plans for development.”

That partnership “is designed to provide an effective and efficient mechanism for the state to join with city and county government to create and execute strategies for economic development.”

It will also “be tasked with working in consultation with the offices of the mayor and the Mercer County executive to pursue a wide-range of objectives.”

The state describes those objectives as follows:

  • Reviewing the city’s long-range Master Plan, Trenton250, and identifying funding and resources to implement those initiatives.
  • Creating an action plan for the redevelopment of state properties in downtown Trenton and around transit centers that support a mix of residential, office, and/or retail uses.
  • Developing initiatives to support new market-rate housing in downtown Trenton.
  • Aligning state resources to implement Trenton’s vision for the Capital Park and access to the waterfront.
  • Supporting public safety initiatives.
  • Attracting private capital into Trenton’s Opportunity Zones.
  • Attracting federal grant funding for infrastructure plans.
  • Integrating institutions of higher education within Mercer County into revitalization and workforce development strategies.
  • Utilizing the arts, culture, and historical assets to attract visitors to downtown Trenton.

The announcement also quotes Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, who calls the executive order “a long way toward forging a true partnership between the capital city and the state. In the past, one side or the other may have been striving for this collaborative approach, but rarely have two administrations been on the same page as much as myself and Governor Murphy. I applaud his proactive measures to quickly reestablish Trenton as the prime example of New Jersey’s government working for the people it serves.”

This initiative follows two other recent Trenton-related actions by the state:

The EDA awarded the city an Innovation Challenge grant initiative to support the Trenton Production and Knowledge Innovation Campus (TPKIC).

That’s a downtown Trenton multi-university collaborative led by a consortium of all five institutions of higher education in Mercer County: Mercer County Community College, Princeton University, Rider University, the College of New Jersey, and Thomas Edison State University. Other partners include Greater Trenton and New Jersey Future. The details of the project have yet to be revealed.

The NJEDA also unveiled a package of economic incentives to help three local Trenton businesses: Mill Hill Pharmacy; Dunkin Donuts; and owners of the building of East State Deli. Each business will receive aid from either the EDA’s Business Lease Incentive or Business Improvement Incentive programs. Both programs support businesses in EDA-designated Garden State Growth Zones.