This week, economists and New Jersey officials gathered at a forum in Trenton to take the state’s pulse as it strives to recover from the recession.
Their prognosis for the anemic economy is slow but steady growth. With statewide unemployment stubbornly hovering at 8.5 percent, New Jersey lags the rest of the country and the national 7.3 percent unemployment rate.
One bright and healthy spot, however, is the Mercer region where the latest statistics find the unemployment rate at 6.9 percent.
A large part of the reason for that robust showing is the assembly of state-of-the-art hospitals in the Trenton area that not only employ thousands of full-time workers but also pump more than $1 billion back into the local economy.
In 2012, the five hospitals in the Trenton region produced $1.25 billion for the local economy, employed 6,990 full-time workers, and spent $132 million on services last year, including $70 million for contracted labor, according to the report from the New Jersey Hospital Association.
Capital Health’s Regional Medical Center and its hospital in Hopewell, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton, Trenton’s St. Francis Medical Center, and the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro in Middlesex County create extensive ripples of economic activity. Their purchases create and fortify jobs, while the spending power of hospital employees accelerates further development.
And that healthy circulation is helping to extend prosperity.
The hospitals’ sterling reputation for cutting-edge health and wellness care burnishes the region’s cachet as a medical destination.
Others, meanwhile, are discovering all the cultural attractions the region has to offer.
A report from the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce study finds that visitors spent an astounding $1.85 billion on tourism in 2012, outpacing pre-recession level spending.
With area attractions ranging from the world-class Grounds for Sculpture to the stellar array of museums to riveting historical landmarks, tourists flocked to the region. They shopped, saw the sights, dined locally and stayed in hotels throughout the six-county region.
With expanded services and routes at the revamped Trenton-Mercer Airport, officials anticipate an ever larger influx of tourists and greater economic impact from the regional tourism industry that is outpacing that of New Jersey and the U.S.
Marketing has paid off handsomely and we hope to see those efforts continue – particularly in Trenton with its wealth of history and the Patriot Days celebration that’s tailor-made for tourists.
We have always known that this is an extraordinary region. We’re glad to see that secret is getting out.