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Monday, October 8, 2007

An unsustainable initiative

Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer and other New Jersey officials unveiled a public-private partnership called the Trenton Green Initiative last Monday, in a move designed to ensure sustainable development within Trenton while developing Trenton as a regional center for sustainable development business.

Mayor Palmer touted the new plan as developing a blueprint for urban areas nationwide that are pursuing sustainable development, while providing economic opportunity for Trenton.

National awareness of the need for sustainable development and "green" building have made this an attractive time to jump on the bandwagon, but economic indicators say Trenton remains an economically-downtrodden city with a highly unskilled workforce.

The unskilled nature of the Trenton workforce is so high, especially relative to the surrounding municipalities, it seems any high-tech industry based here would not be any kind of a significant boon to the city.

The vast majority of Trenton residents would not be able to work for any business like the one spoken about within Mayor Palmer's plan.

This kind of high-tech business would be more likely to attract skilled labor from outside of Trenton into town for 40 hours a week, fleeing the city limits - with their paychecks - on weekdays at 5 p.m. and Fridays at 3 p.m.

That situation sounds an awful lot like the state offices and their 20,000 employees that were supposed to provide a new purpose and a new economy for this city when they were built in the 1960s.

Taxpayer dollars would be better spent providing training and apprenticeship programs for city residents, providing an opportunity to scale the economic opportunity divide that seperates Trenton from so many of its neighbors.

Trenton's government needs to stop spending tax dollars on extraneous city positions and pie-in-the-sky environmental initiatives. Then maybe the funding will be in place to shore up public safety, housing inspections and other established city services.

This creates an environment to simultaneously train city residents while creating a safer urban environment that attracts skilled people to actually live here, invest here, and spend disposable income here.

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