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Governor pledges to work to revitalize Trenton

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order Wednesday creating the New Jersey State Capital Partnership to help aid Trenton’s revitalization.

The new initiative is designed to harness state support and resources to spur economic development in Trenton and help chart a new course for the capital city.

“Trenton played a pivotal role in the fate of our state and nation, and yet for years it has not received the rightful level of support and attention it deserves,” Murphy said.  “Today, I am directing agencies within the executive branch to throw their support behind Trenton and work in partnership with Mayor Gusciora and Mercer County officials to help our capital city realize its true potential.  I am confident that under Trenton’s new leadership we can restore the vibrancy of our capital and secure its place as a leader in today’s innovation economy.”

The New Jersey Department of the Treasury will facilitate the partnership. State agencies will attempt to direct resources to Trenton to help with the city’s redevelopment plans, officials said.

“Trenton has been in decline for many years and, unfortunately, the state has played a role in its neglect,” said Lieutenant Governor and Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Sheila Oliver.  “What hasn’t diminished, however, are the natural assets that once enabled Trenton to thrive.  Today we are pledging the support of state government to capitalize on those assets and help mount a full-scale revitalization.  We owe it to our beloved capital city to step up to the plate and work together.”

State officials estimate that more than half of all jobs in the city – roughly 16,000 – are filled by state employees.  The State of New Jersey also owns more than $1 billion in property, well over a third of all tax-exempt property in the city.

“Trenton’s post-World War II decline as a booming industrial hub left the city largely dependent on the state financially,” said State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. “As both the largest landowner and employer in the city, the State of New Jersey has a financial obligation to serve as an active partner in Trenton’s revitalization and a moral obligation to serve as a good corporate neighbor.”

The New Jersey State Capital Partnership is designed to provide a mechanism for the state to join with city and county government to create and execute strategies for economic development.  The partnership will work with the offices of the mayor and the Mercer County executive to pursue several objectives, including:

-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 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

– Coordinating with colleges and universities in Mercer County on revitalization and workforce development strategies

-Using the arts, cultural, and historical treasures of Trenton to attract visitors to downtown.

Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora said the executive order goes a long way to creating a partnership between the state and the city.

“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,” he said. “I applaud his proactive measures to quickly reestablish Trenton as the prime example of New Jersey’s government working for the people it serves.”

John Harmon of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey said the move is long overdue. ‘This news is not only encouraging, but will be transformational for the people of Trenton, not only now, but for years to come,” he said.

The full executive order:

WHEREAS, Trenton has played a central role in the history of New Jersey and the nation over the last two centuries and its historical significance as the turning point of the American Revolution continues to draw people from around the world; and

WHEREAS, Trenton briefly served as the capital of the United States in 1784, and has been New Jersey’s State capital since the construction of the State House in 1792; and

WHEREAS, today, through the Department of the Treasury, the State is the largest landowner in Trenton, controlling buildings, parking garages, and surface parking lots; and

WHEREAS, the State is Trenton’s largest employer, with more than 16,000 State workers traveling to the State’s capital every day; and

WHEREAS, Trenton’s strategic location on the Delaware River led to its prominence as a manufacturing center in the 19th century and as a hub of innovation producing technological advances in the wire, rubber, textile, and ceramic industries; and

WHEREAS, State government can and should play an active role in achieving the City’s vision of revitalization and prosperity as set forth in the Trenton 250 plan, the comprehensive master plan that is intended to guide the City of Trenton’s development from now until 2042; and

WHEREAS, the Trenton 250 plan calls for the redevelopment of the City in a manner that preserves open space, conserves natural resources, increases multi-modal transportation options, provides housing opportunities, and promotes its cultural, historical and recreational assets; and

WHEREAS, efforts to achieve the goals of the Trenton 250 plan and the priorities of Mayor Gusciora’s new administration require coordinated and interdependent efforts among various State departments and offices; and

WHEREAS, the establishment of a New Jersey State Capital Partnership will provide an effective and efficient mechanism for the State to join with City and Mercer County government to create and execute strategies for the City’s economic development;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, PHILIP D. MURPHY, Governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, do hereby ORDER and DIRECT:

1. There is hereby established a New Jersey State Capital Partnership (“the Partnership”).

2. The Department of the Treasury shall initiate the convening of the members of the Partnership and establish a framework for aligning State resources with the City of Trenton’s plans for development. The Partnership shall be facilitated by the Treasurer, the Treasurer’s designee, or another individual so designated by the Governor. The facilitator shall be supported by appropriate staff from the various executive departments in fulfillment of the Partnership’s responsibilities, to the extent permitted by law and within existing appropriations.

3. The Partnership shall consist of at least the Department of Community Affairs, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Transportation, NJ Transit, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, and the Department of Law and Public Safety. The Governor may, as determined to be appropriate, direct other State agencies to participate in the Partnership.

4. The Partnership will meet as often as practicable, and shall be purely advisory in nature.

5. In consultation with the Mayor of Trenton and Mercer County Executive, the objectives and responsibilities of the Partnership shall include, but not be limited to the following:

a. Reviewing priorities of the Trenton 250 plan and identifying funding and other resources to implement initiatives;

b. 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;

c. Developing initiatives to support new market-rate housing in downtown Trenton;

d. Aligning State resources to implement Trenton’s vision for the Capital Park and access to the waterfront;

e. Supporting public safety initiatives;

f. Reviewing and recommending incentives targeted to attract private capital into Trenton’s Opportunity Zones designated pursuant to the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, in consultation with the Department of Community Affairs and the Economic Development Authority;

g. Recommend to the Governor that certain State departments, agencies, or authorities enter into Memorandums of Understanding with City and County governments in support of attracting federal grant funding to implement Trenton’s infrastructure plans;

h. Integrating institutions of higher education within Mercer County into revitalization and workforce development strategies; and

i. Collaborating with public and private stakeholders and coordinating efforts to better utilize arts and cultural and historical assets to attract visitors to downtown Trenton.

6. All Executive branch departments and agencies are hereby required, to the extent not inconsistent with law, to cooperate fully with the Department of the Treasury or any other designated facilitator and to furnish the facilitator with such information, personnel and assistance as is necessary to accomplish the purposes of this order.

7. This order shall take effect immediately.

Written by
Krystal Knapp

Krystal has been a journalist in the Trenton area since 1999. A graduate of Smith College and Princeton Theological Seminary, she is from Detroit. She likes baseball, cats, jazz, ukulele, typewriters, chai, and good coffee. Follow her @planettrenton.

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Written by Krystal Knapp