Formed in 2015 by engaged Trenton area stakeholders (who happen to also be major players in central New Jersey), Greater Trenton, the nonprofit promoting the economic revitalization of New Jersey’s capital city, has just unveiled its 2017-2020 strategic plan.
The initiative is guided by a board of directors representing the following organizations that have made a multi-year commitment and funding: NJM Insurance Group, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Princeton Area Community Foundation, Investors Bank, TD Bank, Capital Health, PSEG, Thomas Edison State University, Wells Fargo Bank, Princeton University, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
In 2016 the organization hired its first executive director, George Sosa, former executive vice president and senior managing director for Brandywine Realty Trust, one of the nation’s largest publicly traded real estate companies and the developer of Campbell Soup Company’s Gateway District in Camden.
In addition to the development of the 2017-2020 strategic plan, Greater Trenton CEO, George Sowa, has been actively promoting Trenton’s assets and development opportunities through more than 75 meetings and city tours with developers, real estate brokers, bankers and CEOs. The city tours identify more than 20 sites demonstrating how Trenton is positioned to meet a variety of needs serving as a walkable, transit-orientated urban area, poised to attract new residents and create jobs while continuing to maintain affordability and opportunities for existing residents and businesses.
According to a statement by co-chairs NJM CEO Bernard Flynn and Kaufman Zita Group Senior Vice President Anthony “Skip” Cimino, Greater Trenton’s mission “is to facilitate the development and revitalization of downtown Trenton by serving as an expert resource to businesses, developers, and community partners. Operating as an independent, privately funded, non-partisan organization, Greater Trenton collaborates with all levels of government as well as businesses and non-profit entities to promote the city’s assets and opportunities with a keen focus on the downtown core.”
Those six goals are:
1. Marketing. We will market Trenton and Greater Trenton to call attention to our great city. We’ll do this by:
• Implementing a branding and marketing plan to promote Trenton’s revitalization and to further establish Greater Trenton
• Promoting Trenton’s arts, culture, history, and development — everything that makes Trenton a unique and wonderful place
2. Partnerships. We will support partners and coordinate efforts to address community needs and take advantage of opportunities for growth. We’ll do this by:
• Developing and maintaining our partnerships with representatives from the city, county, state, and federal government, community, and civic organizations, educational institutions, businesses, and residents
• Maintaining our strong relationship with Trenton’s city administration to advance shared goals
• Serving as a connector and convener of diverse stakeholders to match and strengthen partnerships
• Supporting our partners’ projects and success
3. Safety. We will support efforts to address safety and security concerns. We’ll do this by:
• Prioritizing and supporting, in partnerships with police and other stakeholders, responses to safety and security issues
• Supporting business development in concentrated business areas
• Promoting welcoming, clean, and safe streets
4. Business concierge services. We will provide one-stop support and assistance for existing and prospective developers, investors, brokers, and businesses. We’ll do this by:
• Conducting outreach to prospective businesses
• Supporting welcoming processes and practices for new businesses
• Establishing a database of available building inventory, land sites, and properties, including incentives for development
• Providing one-stop, individualized support for developers, investors, brokers, and businesses to help them navigate the process of doing business in Trenton
5. Project support and coordination. We will support priority projects and improve the fundamentals necessary for development, such as parking, licensing, and financing. We’ll do this by:
• Supporting revitalization projects that are planned and/or already underway in Trenton
• Leading and participating in market studies to inform projects that will catalyze development throughout the city
• Responding to opportunities and challenges that arise
6. Sustainability. We will invest in Greater Trenton’s organizational sustainability to make sure we are ready to contribute to Trenton’s revitalization for years to come. We’ll do this by:
• Supporting our board of directors and staff to maximize individual and collective efforts
• Establishing advisory committees to engage more stakeholders, particularly Trenton residents, to guide us and to nurture future leaders
• Increasing our capacity to build out business services and community engagement
• Completing evaluations and reviews to track our progress, make adjustments, and communicate lessons learned and outcomes
As the organization says in the introduction to the plan, “The historic pivot in the American Revolution occurred on the streets of Trenton 240 years ago. We believe another historic pivot is beginning right now.”