MEDIA CONTACT:  Julie Willmot
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TRENTON -- Tucked into a pocket of New Jersey where sports fans are as likely to root for their favorite New York team as they are a Philadelphia team, Mercer County, NJ, 366,000 proud residents strong, has always had much to celebrate. From its historic treasures, to its diverse communities and economic stability, Mercer County is where history meets prosperity.

Mercer County continues to build its reputation as a top location to live, work and do business, and several national publications have recently taken note, recognizing the Mercer County region as one of the best in the nation in economic growth, job opportunities, tolerance and affordability.

A strong, diverse economy; a skilled, highly educated workforce; a prime location between two metropolitan areas and an excellent transportation infrastructure are some of the key factors giving the County stability and appeal.

“These rankings reaffirm what we already knew – that Mercer County has a lot to offer employers, job seekers and residents,” said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. “We have one of the most skilled workforces in the United States, are home to some of the leading Fortune 500 companies, and have an unemployment rate that is well below the national average.” The most recent figures available are May 2012, with Mercer County’s rate at 7.6 percent compared to the state, which was 8.2 percent.

Area Development magazine’s ranking of “Leading Locations” in its Summer 2012 issue places the Trenton-Ewing metro area 20th among 365 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) from across the United States based on economic and job growth. The Trenton-Ewing MSA includes Mercer County as a whole.

Area Development used data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis in ranking the 365 MSAs across two dozen economic and workforce indicators. Trenton-Ewing’s No. 20 ranking on the overall list of “Leading Locations” was one spot behind State College, Pa., and one ahead of the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area.

In the breakout rankings, Trenton-Ewing ranked fourth among the Top 50 Mid-Size Cities (and was the only MSA in New Jersey); third among the Top 20 Mid-Atlantic Cities; third among the Top 25 Mid-Size Cities for Economic Strength; 14th among the Top 25 Mid-Size Cities for Prime Workforce Growth; and sixth among the Top 25 Mid-Size Cities for Recession Busting Factors.

In its current issue, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine ranked the Trenton-Ewing metro area third in the nation on its list of Best Cities for Families, behind only Des Moines, Iowa, and Manchester-Nashua, N.H. The rankings considered living costs, employment growth, measures of education and tech-savviness, student-teacher ratio in the public schools and the crime rate.

“Many of Mercer County’s communities are internationally diverse and progressive,” the magazine stated. “Parents are highly educated and expect the same of their children, resulting in a highly competitive atmosphere.” The magazine also praised the abundance of county-run recreation programs.

The Atlantic magazine’s “Atlantic Cities” website recently ranked Trenton-Ewing ninth on its list of Best Places for New College Grads, 2012. Noting that more than half of recent grads are unemployed or underemployed, the article suggested that a good way to improve one’s economic prospects is to pick the right place to live. U.S. metro areas were ranked on a variety of criteria deemed important to new grads, including economic factors such as unemployment rate, salary levels and the fraction of high-paying, high-quality job markets, as well as the percentage of the population that has never been married, and Trenton-Ewing came in at No. 9, between Ann Arbor, Mich., and Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.

Atlantic Cities also recently looked at the amount of money people in different cities have left over after they paid for housing. It listed the 20 metro areas with the most money left after paying for housing, and Trenton-Ewing ranked fifth, at $3,270 per month, landing between San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, California, and Huntsville, Alabama.

Trenton-Ewing received the 13th highest score among U.S. metro areas in a recent Atlantic Cities post that looked at tolerance, which author Richard Florida called “a key element of the new economic development equation.” U.S. metros were ranked according to three key variables: the share of immigrants or foreign-born residents, the concentration of gays and lesbians, and the “Integration Index,” which tracks the level of segregation between ethnic and racial groups. The top ranking went to the San Diego metro area, followed by three other California MSAs. “Places that are open to new ideas attract creative people from around the globe, broadening both their technology and talent capabilities, gaining a substantial economic edge,” Florida wrote.

Another recent Atlantic Cities piece used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to rank the Trenton-Ewing metro area sixth among the 20 U.S. metro areas with the largest concentrations of the creative class, which includes professionals in the fields of science and technology, design and architecture, arts, entertainment and media, and healthcare, law, management and education. The creative class makes up 42.9 percent of the workforce in the Trenton-Ewing metro area, according to Atlantic Cities. Most of the metro areas on the list contain higher education institutions, including No. 1 Durham, N.C., where Duke University is located.

Mercer County is home to five higher education institutions – Princeton and Rider universities, The College of New Jersey, Thomas Edison State College and Mercer County Community College – several of which recently have undergone expansions or announced plans to expand. These institutions provide a young, prime workforce and represent an employment sector that creates jobs, encourages tourism and helps stabilize the local economy.

In addition, Mercer County constitutes an ideal location for business and real estate development because of its proximity to the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas and also because of its excellent transportation infrastructure, boasting transportation options for commuters that fit with every lifestyle. Mercer County has three major train stations along the NJ Transit Northeast Corridor Line; easy access to the New Jersey Turnpike and many major expressways; an extensive bus system; and special transportation resources for senior citizens and people with physical disabilities. Trenton-Mercer Airport also allows for convenient corporate and leisure travel for visitors to the Tri-State area.

The Hughes Administration has taken steps to make Mercer County business friendly so that companies can produce services and products that grow the local economy. The County offers a Loan Fund through which it can provide up to $125,000 to start or expand a business. Since the Loan Fund’s inception in 2000, 639 Mercer County jobs were created or retained and 76 percent of those businesses were either women- or minority-owned. The County also has an On the Job Training grant program that reimburses an employer up to $4,000 for hiring a new employee. Through the program, employers are able to take a chance on a new employee with the goal of offering permanent placement. And large multinational corporations have found a home in Mercer County, which has expanded its Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) Program, to assist companies engaged in international commerce in reducing their operating costs.

Mercer County also provides an abundance of recreation and entertainment offerings. The Park System, which hosts more than 2 million visitors each year, features numerous facilities for active and passive recreation, including athletic and recreational facilities, meeting places, catering halls, our four golf courses for public use and private events. The County is home to professional sports teams -- the Trenton Titans of the East Coast Hockey League and the Trenton Thunder, the New York Yankees’ AA affiliate – and the Sun National Bank Center is ranked among the best performing venues of its size in the world. The County also holds some of New Jersey’s greatest cultural and historic locations, including Revolutionary War battle sites in Trenton and Princeton.