Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 10
 
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
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County, Chamber Gear Up for Third Economic Summit

Matthew Hersh

The Mercer County Office of Economic Opportunity and Sustainability and the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce are once again slated to host the third annual Mercer County Economic Summit this month, and amid statewide and national concerns of a shaky economy, county representatives were out in force last week, saying that the county’s fundamental economic core was intact.

“We have great education institutions, we have great transportation throughout the county and state, and we have things that, quite frankly, are so important to Mercer County developing in the future,” said County Executive Brian Hughes, during an event preview at PNC Bank in downtown Princeton last Wednesday.

Last week’s event offered a glimpse of this year’s program, slated for March 27, from 3 to 7 p.m., at the Conference Center at Mercer County Community College.

Mr. Hughes pointed to the area’s access via three Northeast Corridor stops in Mercer County — Trenton, Hamilton, and Princeton Junction — as key components of economic viability in the face of increased traffic throughout the state.

“You see Route 1, and the Turnpike, and all of our vehicular traffic routes getting more and more crowded. That access to mass transportation here in Mercer County is going to be very important,” Mr. Hughes said.

Jerry Fennelly, the president and founder of NAI Fennelly and board vice chair of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, said that the goal of the upcoming summit would be to educate people on the economic strengths of the county. “We believe that private sector should support public sector. I think that this event will inspire and motivate people to create new ideas for Mercer County,” he said.

Kevin Tylus, regional president of PNC Bank-Yardville and trustee of the New Jersey Bankers Association, warned that the economy has “cooled dramatically,” leading to stress on the financial sector, and that “we can expect to see slowed growth in Mercer County as well. Bankers and non-bankers would agree that this is a difficult time for the economy.

“The real estate markets are in disarray, or uncertain at best,” he said, though he added that the region’s economic fundamentals and the relatively high per capita income are bright spots. “We have many things going in our favor and we’ve had some favorable development in the county over the last 10 years and we need to build off of that,” Mr. Tylus said.

The strong suits, Mr. Tylus said, could help to “mitigate a difficult economy.”

The summit’s keynote speaker will be Robert A. Dye, vice president and senior economist of PNC Financial Services Group, who is a key contributor to PNC’s forecast for future economic and financial trends. Mr. Dye’s address will be followed by four breakout sessions on “Mercer County Revitalization and Growth,” “Higher Education as an Economic Driver,” “Demographic Dynamics and the Mercer County Economy,” and “Tourism — How Sports and Entertainment Drive the Local Economy.”

Major sponsors for the summit are PNC Bank, Verizon, NAI Fennelly, and PSE&G. For more information, call (609) 924-1776 or write to cheri@princetonchamber.org.

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