Thomas Edison State College and Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) James Kerney Campus are important downtown institutions and drivers for economic development downtown. Students, faculty, and staff of these educational institutions are customers, as are their visitors, all of whom contribute significantly to the downtown economy. Colleges support retailers, service businesses, and hotels. They also can supply residents to further support these entities. In addition, indirect economic benefits of these institutions can include spin-off businesses affiliated with the colleges. The potential expansion of educational offerings at MCCC Downtown could amount to even greater economic opportunities.
To ensure that downtown Trenton leverages these opportunities, the City should solidify partnerships with these downtown educational institutions. While the City should partner with these institutions to foster workforce advancement (see Regional Workforce-Education Partnership), a partnership should also be nurtured to capture their economic development potential for downtown Trenton. This partnership should involve regular dialogue with each college to understand the needs of students and staff that downtown Trenton could accommodate through the development of new housing and commercial amenities. This activity generated by downtown academic institutions would significantly improve downtown vibrancy.
In addition, the City and its academic partners must identify opportunities to align their long-term development goals with the City’s master plan. Moreover, these partnerships should push to encourage other educational institutions to develop downtown satellite campuses. The City should also work to identify how the institutions can support local retailers and restaurants and what impediments exist to employees patronizing local retailers and restaurants.