Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes greets Gene Elias and Sherry Ritter of the Mercadien Group prior to delivering his annual State of the County address at the Stone Terrace in Hamilton.

Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes greets Gene Elias and Sherry Ritter of the Mercadien Group prior to delivering his annual State of the County address at the Stone Terrace in Hamilton.

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Hughes: Economic news bodes well for Mercer

TRENTON, N.J. - Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes detailed the economic progress being made throughout the County today in his annual State of the County address.

He delivered his address to an audience of more than 400 business and government leaders during a luncheon sponsored by the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce.

Hughes, who was giving his ninth State of the County address, hailed the recent arrival of Frontier Airlines to Trenton-Mercer Airport (TTN) and noted the positive economic impact the Denver-based carrier is expected to have on the region. Since establishing operations at TTN in November with twice-a-week service to Orlando, Fla., Frontier has announced plans to add non-stop service to three other Florida destinations, as well as New Orleans, Chicago (Midway), Raleigh-Durham, Atlanta, Detroit and Columbus, Ohio.

“I’m enormously proud of my administration’s success in not only getting this major carrier at TTN, but in making TTN such a great airport that Frontier announced this week that it is to make TTN its East Coast base,” Hughes said.

The County Executive pointed to the “tremendous value and potential” of the region surrounding the airport, which includes the former Naval Air Warfare and GM properties. A year ago, Hughes commissioned a study to plot a course for the best use of the airport and surrounding properties; meanwhile, Ewing Township began developing plans to create a town center and transit hub, creating possibly thousands of jobs. Hughes said that County and Township officials will share their vision for the area with the Freeholder Board and the public at the board’s Jan. 24 meeting.

Hughes said that Princeton, the State Capital City of Trenton and Trenton-Mercer Airport, along with existing rail infrastructure in Ewing, create a “transportation triangle” that will be an “enormous economic driver” and help ensure the County continues to thrive as a tourist destination.

He noted that tourism expenditures in Mercer County totaled $1.08 billion in 2011, according to the Princeton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau, representing an all-time high and a 10 percent increase over 2010.

“There is enormous potential to attract visitors to our beautiful and historic County, and to do so in ways that will create economic opportunity and jobs for the entire region,” Hughes said.

Hughes highlighted some of the recent good news about private development, including:
  • the Internet retail giant Amazon’s decision to construct a mega warehouse in Robbinsville, which could bring more than 1,400 jobs;
  • River Horse Brewing Company’s decision to move its operation down river to a bigger space in Ewing;
  • the grand opening of the new global headquarters for Sparta Systems, the global market leader in enterprise quality management systems, in Hamilton;
  • continued improvements being made at Quaker Bridge Mall in Lawrence, including the addition of new shops and restaurants;
  • several new restaurants planned at the MarketFair shopping center in West Windsor;
  • Shiseido’s plans to expand its 200,000-square-foot facility in East Windsor by another 75,000 square feet.

Hughes also outlined some of the investments being made in the City of Trenton, beginning with the new Mercer County Criminal Courthouse, which opened Monday, officially marking the end to the largest public project in County history. Among the other projects he cited were the expansion of Mercer County Community College’s downtown campus and Thomas Edison State College’s plan to convert a former housing complex into a 27,000-square-foot nursing education building.

“This commitment to Trenton is a commitment to all Mercer County residents,” Hughes said. “A strong Capital City makes for a strong Capital County, and this is an investment that will pay off for us all.”

The County Executive closed his address by expressing his pride over the Princeton Borough-Township merger that took effect on Jan. 1, saluting his hometown for becoming “a model for other communities across New Jersey.”

Hughes’ speech was attended by many elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, state Assemblyman Daniel Benson, Mercer County Freeholders Ann Cannon, Anthony Carabelli, John Cimino and Samuel Frisby Sr., Mercer County Sheriff Jack Kemler, Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello, Mercer County Surrogate Diane Gerofsky, Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini Jr., Ewing Mayor Bert Steinmann, Lawrence Mayor Jim Kownacki and Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried.

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