The construct of a new passenger terminal at Trenton-Mercer Airport was the top issue Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes discussed in his state of the county address again this year.
Hughes addressed several hundred business and government leaders Thursday at the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Hyatt Regency in West Windsor.
Hughes said that because the nearly 50-year-old passenger terminal is too small and outdated to handle further growth, the county will expedite the planning process and “move aggressively to design and build a passenger terminal that will meet our needs for today and into the future. The return on our investment will be very positive.”
Frontier Airlines began providing passenger service at Trenton-Mercer Airport in Ewing in 2012. Seven million dollars was spent on terminal improvements and parking lots. Officials say the improvements were paid for through airport revenue.
Hughes announced the creation of the Mercer County Partnership for Educational Attainment with a goal of strengthening the educational credentials of the local workforce in order to convince businesses to invest and grow in Mercer County.
“Economists agree that education is the single most important factor in determining regional economic success,” Hughes said. “And improving educational attainment is probably the single most important thing we can do for the future of our region.”
Jianping Wang, the new president of Mercer CountyCommunity College, will serve as the chair of the panel, and that the presidents of Princeton University, Rider University, Thomas Edison State University, and The College of New Jersey, have also been asked to participate.
His goal for the new commission, which also will include business leaders and others, is to increase the percentage of the county’s workforce with a college degree or its equivalent by one percent, or about 2,500 people, over the next five years.
“If we are successful in this, we can change the lives of individuals, families,
neighborhoods and entire communities – as well as help our businesses to succeed,” Hughes said. “Education is our most important strategy for a future that includes opportunities for everyone.”
Hughes also said he plans to authorize a second round of grants for Mercer at Play program that has funded 20 recreational improvement projects throughout the county. The program provides grants to municipalities for the construction or rehabilitation of local recreational facilities. The objective of the program is to increase recreational opportunities and encourage people, particularly children, to exercise and improve their health and fitness.