Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson today announced the formation of Greater Trenton, a nonprofit that will use private funding to promote economic development and revitalization projects in the capital city.
“This partnership with leaders from private industry and our higher education community will help us activate economic development in Trenton through a collaboration that leverages new and existing resources to grow the city’s tax base and economy,” Jackson said.
Bernie Flynn, president and CEO of NJM Insurance Group, and Caren Franzini, former New Jersey Economic Development Authority CEO, will lead Greater Trenton and chair a board that is comprised of a group of organizations that have made a five-year financial commitment to fund the initiative.
Funders include the New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group, Capital Health Systems, Thomas Edison State College, Princeton University, Investors Bank, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Wells Fargo Bank.
“As a company that was founded in Trenton and is one of the largest employers in the capital region, NJM is proud to take a leading role in this important initiative,” Flynn said. “With strong support from New Jersey’s corporate, institutional and philanthropic communities, this effort will facilitate partnerships and bring together the resources and talent needed to advance economic development and revitalization projects in our state capital.”
Flynn, citing New Brunswick and Camden as models, said he thinks Greater Trenton can follow in the footsteps of similar public-private initiatives in cities across the state and nation.Franzini echoed Flynn’s enthusiasm for Trenton’s potential.
“Having been intimately involved in statewide economic development efforts for the past 30 years, I’m very excited to serve as co-chair of Greater Trenton,” she said. “With a strong group of engaged public, private and not-for-profit stakeholders, a clear mission and strong city assets, we have a great opportunity to bring new investment and activity to downtown Trenton.”
One of the board’s first tasks will be to hire an executive director and staff members.
Key objectives the group has listed: coordinating downtown economic development projects, providing one-stop support and information for investors interested in taking on new projects, reaching out to potential residential and business investors and tenants, engaging downtown stakeholders in a strategic economic development plan, and developing marketing strategies.
Anthony Cimino, the former President and CEO of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton, touted the advantages of a collaborative public-private approach.
“As someone who has spent his career in the public and private sectors, I appreciate the roles both play in effective community development,” he said. “This initiative provides a partnership that offers real advantages to the city and the whole region without having to spend taxpayer dollars.”
Nelida Valentin, a Trenton resident and former head of Leadership Trenton who was also instrumental in creating Greater Trenton, is optimistic about the new partnership’s potential.
“I’ve been in Trenton a long time and this is the most excited I have been about a focused, collaborative effort that combines local knowledge and leadership with regional expertise and commitment,” she said.