#b#To the Editor: Mercer Airport An Economic Jewel#/b#

The Trenton/Mercer Airport has the potential to become an economic jewel for the entire region. For too long, in my estimation, we have allowed this gemstone to dull due to underutilization. With the strategic business plan of Frontier Airlines, the development plans of Ewing Township and the demonstrated commitment of the Hughes Administration at the County, the chances of success for the airport to evolve into a vital part of our state’s economic future have never shined so brightly.

First, let’s take a look at airports as economic generators. According to a study by CDM Smith, in 2010 airports in the U.S. directly employed 1.3 million people. Visitor activity at U.S. airports created 3.6 million jobs. Adding the multiplier effect of the economic impact of airports, we find that airports employ 10.5 million people with an annual payroll of $365 billion and output of 1.2 trillion. In New Jersey 231,000 jobs are created by our airports with an annual payroll of over $9 billion. Over $31 million of annual economic output is generated by New Jersey commercial airports. The FAA forecasts that Trenton/Mercer will be serving 11 million people by 2025, The FAA also projects that by 2025 air travel will increase by 50 percent. They believe that investments in smaller regional airports such as Trenton/Mercer will relieve pressure on larger airports like Newark and Philadelphia and enhance local economies.

There are about 4 million people within a 30 to 40-minute drive time from Trenton/Mercer airport. We have easy access from every major highway between Philadelphia and New York, and parking is far more economical than at those airports. We have good public transportation alternatives on site or within close proximity of the airport. Frontier Airlines now offers a number of flights at competitive prices to popular destinations. The growth projections in air travel, easy access to the airport and competitive pricing, positions Trenton/Mercer well to take advantage of a growing industry.

In Ewing Township (where the airport is located), Mayor Bert Steinman is developing a plan to redevelop the old General Motors and Navy Jet Propulsion sites into a vibrant mixed-use commercial/retail development. This plan alone will enhance the West Trenton portion of Ewing Township dramatically — but combined with the potential of the airport it becomes a rare gemstone. By repositioning the air terminal from its current location to one adjacent to the Navy site, the development will serve as a transportation hub, connecting air, rail, and vehicular transportation services for millions of people. This hub offers “economic fortification.”

The activity generated by the transportation center and the personnel necessary to support travel and tourism reinforces the business of the commercial and retail developments at the site. Those developments, in turn attract consumers beyond the travel and tourism industry through retail and commercial business- while also introducing them to the transportation opportunities available there.

This is a natural convergence of economic forces — producing a great opportunity. That gemstone is starting to shine now! The county has also recently shared plans to develop parts of the airport property into commercial and industrial niche locations — showcasing high tech and emerging growth industries. The airport is a valuable element in that economic infrastructure. Workforce talent is an essential quality an area must offer to attract these industries. The Mid-Jersey region is rich in this talent — but now we also have the means to provide air transportation to an ever mobile talent pool.

The Hughes Administration has shown foresight with its aggressive promotion of a new air carrier at Trenton/Mercer Airport and the further development of the airport property. They are moving in the right direction in allowing more flights to more destinations. Rapid growth will occur if businesses and consumers see the advantages of Trenton/Mercer over other major airports, i.e. competitive pricing to popular destinations, ease of access, comfort and commercial opportunities.

The MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce supports the Hughes Administration and Mayor Steinman in their efforts to bring this opportunity to fruition.

Robert D. Prunetti

CEO, MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce

#b#ReStore Is Open for Business#/b#

As I observe the constant flow — and hear the excited chatter — of people carting windows, doors, washing machines, and other materials out of our Habitat for Humanity Restore, I am reminded that to “restore” is to make whole.

When Habitat for Humanity opened its ReStore, its purpose was to provide a place for residents of Trenton to purchase, at low cost, quality new and pre-owned building materials, appliances, and furniture.

As we prepared for the grand opening of our ReStore, I am deeply thankful for the support we have received from all of Mercer County. Homeowners, contractors, and building supply stores have generously donated both new and reusable items to stock the shelves of the ReStore. And, equally important, local residents are shopping at the ReStore. Despite their extremely tight budgets, they are optimistic. They are investing in their homes, their neighborhood, and their community.

On behalf of Habitat for Humanity, I invite all of you to come shop and/or donate gently used goods. Meet the ReStore’s dedicated staff and volunteers, explore the aisles of the ReStore, and give us the opportunity to thank you for your support of a better and brighter future.

After you visit the ReStore, I invite you to explore the neighborhood’s revitalization. Drive past homes that have been refurbished thanks to two summers of WorkCamp, which brought in hundreds of students to work alongside of residents. During the week after school stop in the Learning Lab where local students have an after school program that rivals the best in any neighborhood. Or remember to come shop at the farmer’s market during the summer. There’s much more than I could share with you about what’s good. And so much of it is captured in the doors, windows, and paint cans carted out of the ReStore and into homes, to make them better — to make them whole.

Tom Caruso

Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity-Trenton Area

Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore is located at 106 Ewing Street, Trenton, and is open Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The ReStore will pick up large items. To arrange for a pick up, to volunteer, or if you have other questions, call the ReStore at 609-218-6863.

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