Regional marketing is one of the best ways to increase awareness of Mercer County and package it to make it more attractive to variety of potential customers: businesses considering a move to the area, tourists looking for a vacation spot, or even current residents looking for resources in the area.

The Mercer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Princeton Regional Chamber, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber, and Wachovia bank host “Advancing the Game Plan for Growth,” on Friday, April 21, at 8 a.m. at the Nassau Inn. Call 609-924-1776.

The purpose of the event, says Thomas Moor, CEO of Select Greater Philadelphia, is to highlight the regional collaborative effort to transform the 11-county greater Philadelphia region into a top U.S. business location by 2010.

Moor is one of several panelists at the meeting. Others are Helene Garcia, director of community and strategic initiatives for Merrill Lynch; Jim Harbaugh, senior director, corporate real estate, Bristol-Myers Squibb; Rick Lovering, senior vice president for operations, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton; Dr. Eli Mordechai, CEO of Medical Diagnostics Laboratory; Katie Rielly-Gauvin, vice president of marketing, Janssen Pharmaceutica; and Mark Vitner, a regional economist with Wachovia.

Select Greater Philadelphia is an organization devoted to marketing the 11-county tri-state area surrounding Philadelphia as one metropolitan region. The counties extend from New Castle, Delaware, through Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia, Montgomery and Bucks counties in Pennsylvania, to Glouster, Salem, Camden, Burlington and Mercer counties in New Jersey. The Mercer County breakfast is part of a series of meetings held in several of the regions.

The greater Philadelphia region is a great place to do business, says Moor. It is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the nation, with more than 6 million residents, as well as 100 million people within a one-day drive.

Location, location. The greater Philadelphia region is centrally located between New York and Washington, D.C., giving business easy access to both the financial and political capitals of the country at a much lower cost of living. Mercer County, almost equidistant from downtown Philadelphia and Manhattan, is an easy commute for people who work in either area, and the cost of living throughout the 11-county region is lower than in many other regions. “Average household expenses are 50 percent lower than in New York, Boston, or San Francisco says Moor.

Moor points out the greater Philadelphia region is also more economically diverse than either Washington, D.C., or New York City. “New York is known mostly for its financial industry, as well as for Broadway and theater. Washington’s economic base is political.”

Greater Philadelphia’s economy, however, includes pharmaceutical and biotech industries, information technology, telecommunications, software development, financial services, and transportation.

Transportation. “Commerce occurs where trade routes intersect,” says Moor. Whether you are commuting to work by car or train, traveling across the country, or shipping products across the world, the region offers easy transportation. The ports of Newark and Philadelphia are easily accessible, rail lines and highways such as I-95 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike make it easy to move goods throughout the country. “Greater Philadelphia is two hours by air to 50 percent of the U.S. population and six hours non-stop to California, Great Britain, Europe, and Latin America.”

Healthcare. “The region is home to the second largest concentration of health resources in the country, including five medical schools and 120 hospitals. Eight leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies are based in the region, and established tech companies make our area a top-10 location for high-tech employment,” Moor says.

Education. There are 83 colleges and universities in the region, including two Ivy League schools. In addition to training young people, many of the schools partner with industry and spawn new companies — and even new industries.

Lower business costs. Along with a lower cost of living, the Business Cost Index, which “bundles the costs of labor, energy, taxes, and office space,” explains Moor, is lower in the region than it is in New York, San Francisco, or Boston and comparable to the business cost index in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Seattle. Office rental rates in greater Philadelphia are about half that of the New York City metro area and lower than Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

Diverse talent pool. The greater Philadelphia region is the home of 17 Fortune 500 companies and 33 Fortune 1000 companies. More than 31 percent of residents have at least a bachelor’s degree, and the area also has three times the national average of engineers, architects, scientists, and computer professionals,” says Moor.

International resources. There are 33 foreign consulates located in the greater Philadelphia area, a fact that helps to make it easier to do business internationally. In fact, there are currently 2,000 foreign-owned companies in the area. “The greater Philadelphia region is ideal for the operation of firms located outside the United States or those that do business internationally,” says Moor.

The diversity of the residents also makes international business easier. “Within the Greater Philadelphia region you have a 45.3 percent probability that the next person you meet will be of a different ethnicity,” says Moor.

Many more statistics about the region can be found at the Select Philadelphia website, www.SelectGreaterPhiladelphia.com. The website is just one of the many tools used to help persuade businesses to locate to the region, Moor says. He hopes that the county breakfasts will promote greater cooperation between the various counties in the area, making it even easier for companies to do business in Greater Philadelphia or consider relocating here.

“In today’s global economy we need to compete as an economic region. If you leave the area, people do not know where Cherry Hill or New Hope are. In Europe they have heard of Princeton University, but they don’t know in which state it is located. But they have heard of Philadelphia.”

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