A "progress edition" story is supposed to breathlessly announce fabulous statistics of growth: how many people started businesses in the greater Princeton business community, how many firms moved into the area, and how many established businesses expanded. U.S. 1’s annual informal survey — gleaned from press releases, sightings of comings and goings by our deliverers, and real estate agents’ reports — boasts some impressive numbers this year: 355 companies were founded here, moved here, expanded here, or otherwise changed their space.
So is this an indicator of unbridled growth? Probably not. We found that 10 to 20 percent fewer companies started up or grew last year than the year before. The bigger companies were the ones doing the growing and the moving in 1997. Eighty-eight of the 162 firms that expanded had 10 or more employees. Of the 74 who moved into the Princeton area, 16 had 10 or more workers. Five of the 33 start-ups were the larger firms, as were 23 of the 86 companies that made a crosstown move.
This list of newsworthy companies is organized by business type and functions as a yearly index. Scan it and you can be reminded of the major business stories, tell where the growth is, and see a microcosm of Princeton’s business scene. Most of the growth came from financial services firms and high tech firms (which rank second and third to education as job providers in the state) but companies in the communications area also added strength.
Computer consultants are expanding as fast as they can hire programmers, and Year 2000 remediators have a particularly steep growth curve. Hexaware, a remediation firm with six overseas locations, expanded from 4,000 square feet at 13 Roszel Road to nearly 10,000 feet at 3 Independence Way. A firm targeting Wall Street markets, CyLogix, was brand new last January but is up to 79 people and 18,000 square feet at Washington Square.
Firms that provide support services are also prospering. Three shared office spaces or incubators were established (Daily Plan-It, Technology Center of New Jersey, and Chambers Street Partners) and three expanded (Rutgers Technology Help Desk and Incubator, Office Concierge, and D/J Business Services). Organizations that support high tech companies — technology trade groups and venture capital firms — are also growing. The New Jersey Technology Council is adding new "tracks" or groups, and other technology trade groups have been founded. New and expanding VC firms include Healthcare Ventures, Early Stage Enterprises, and Plimpton Yang.
Telecommunications played a big role last year. IXTC was the impressive start-up that has established itself in the Hovnanian center on North Center Drive. C-Tec, at the Carnegie Center, did a three way stock split and its telephone business, RCN, has just bought two Internet service providers — the biggest ISPs in Boston and Washington. Teleport Communications, which was in the process of moving its headquarters from Staten Island to Dayton, has just been bought by AT&T.
Of the 33 start-ups, nine are in computers, six are financial businesses, two are telecommunications, and two are in biotech or pharmaceutical R&D. Three are being incubated at the Sarnoff Center. The 162 expansions include 22 communications firms, 20 pharmaceutical or R&D firms, 17 financial-related firms, 16 computer-oriented companies, 10 manufacturing firms, and seven management consultants. In the group called "New in Town" (they moved to greater Princeton from elsewhere in New Jersey or from out of state) there were 74 businesses, of which 10 were financial, 10 were communications-oriented, six were in computers, five in manufacturing, and three in telecommunications.
Our survey shows that more than 65 Princeton companies went out of business or simply moved away. And though the commercial real estate brokers like to talk about how tight space is, some pockets of space are going begging. For instance: PA Consulting’s singular building on Route 571 is still empty, and no buyer has been announced for the Lockheed Martin complex.
Most of the new buildings were constructed for service businesses: health care (Windrows at Princeton, St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center, Deer Park Nursing & Rehabilitation Center), child care (Prodigy Child Development), or lodging (AmeriSuites Hotel). Nevertheless Raytheon Engineers and Constructors — which had just announced its move last January — has a four-story office at the Carnegie Center under construction. And warehouses, such as the Volkswagen parts distribution center, are going up at Exit 8-A.
Also, many buildings that had been long empty are now full. Crossroads Corporate Center had a major influx that included some big insurance firms. The Mobil site in Hopewell, with 800,000 square feet available, is now being occupied by rapidly growing contingents from Bristol-Myers Squibb. Parker Printing bought and occupied the Heinemann Electric plant on Brunswick Pike and Trenton’s Hill Refrigeration site is accumulating tenants.
The key to all this Princeton-based prosperity is of course the Princeton location. Three examples of companies that set up in Princeton simply because the person in charge wants to be here: ITXC, Trintech, and Metorex. ITXC is the up-and-coming telephony firm that has the founder who lives on Library Place. Trintech is the Irish computer firm founded by the brother of a former Princeton Plasma Physics scientist. Metorex is the manufacturing firm headed by a Finnish woman who simply likes to stay at the Nassau Inn.