Murphy signs order to create N.J. State Capital Partnership, which will aid Trenton revitalization

By Emily Bader
Trenton | Sep 27, 2018 at 10:32 am

Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday signed an executive order to establish the New Jersey State Capital Partnership.

The partnership will use state resources and support to spur economic revitalization in Trenton.

“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 (Reed) 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 partnership will be led by the Department of the Treasury and will join together the Department of Community Affairs, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Transportation, New Jersey Transit, the Economic Development Authority, the Department of Law and Public Safety and other state agencies.

“Trenton has been in decline for many years and, unfortunately, the state has played a role in its neglect,” Lt. Gov. and DCA Commissioner Sheila Oliver said.  “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.”

Trenton used to have a thriving industrial economy due to its unique location along the Delaware River and proximity to Philadelphia and New York City. Due to domestic and global competition, along with suburban flight, the economy in Trenton has hit a downfall.

“I think this executive order goes a long way toward forging a true partnership between the capital city and the state,” Gusciora said. “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 Gov. Murphy. I applaud his proactive measures to quickly re-establish Trenton as the prime example of New Jersey’s government working for the people it serves.”

Today, more than half of all jobs in the city, 16,000, are state employees. The state also owns more than $1 billion in property there.

“Trenton’s post-World War II decline as a booming industrial hub left the city largely dependent on the state financially,” Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio, who previously represented Trenton as a member of both the Legislature and the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders, said. “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 partnership will provide an opportunity for Trenton to spur economic growth. It will be tasked with working in consultation with the offices of the Mayor and the Mercer County Executive to pursue several objectives, including:

  • Reviewing the city’s Master Plan, Trenton250, and finding funding and resources for those initiatives;
  • Creating a plan to redevelop state properties in downtown Trenton and around transit centers;
  • Developing initiatives for new market-rate housing in the downtown area;
  • Finding state resources to implement Capital Park and improve the waterfront areas;
  • Supporting public safety initiatives;
  • Receiving private capital for Trenton’s Opportunity Zones;
  • Receiving federal funding for infrastructure;
  • Integrating higher education institutions in Mercer County into revitalization and workforce development strategies; and
  • Utilizing the arts, culture and historic assets to attract visitors.

“Today’s announcement by Gov. Murphy to make smart investments in the city of Trenton will go a long way toward improving the daily life of residents and visitors. Most importantly, the governor’s commitment to our capital city and his collaboration with Mayor Gusciora will result in more jobs, better transportation, safer streets and cleaner neighborhoods. I want to thank Gov. Murphy for his partnership. We know that, only when Trenton thrives, can Mercer County fully flourish,” Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes said.

Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Ewing) said the partnership will be a renaissance for the city and its residents.

“It’s gratifying to have a governor who finally recognizes Trenton as the state capital and who is making the commitment to build a collaborative relationship and identify the resources that will help to bring Trenton back to its former glory,” Turner said. “This partnership with the state is an opportunity for a true renaissance for our capital city and our residents.”

Emily Bader | ebader@roi-nj.com | emilybader