College Awarded Federal Economic Development Grant

October 20, 2010

Thomas Edison State College has been awarded a federal grant to conduct an economic analysis of a region that comprises 19 urban municipalities in northern and central New Jersey that will help create sustainable economic growth.

The $240,000 grant, provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, supports the North-Central New Jersey Urban Economic Analysis Project, a collaborative effort of The John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy of Thomas Edison State College, The New Jersey Urban Mayors Association, state agencies, local businesses and nonprofit and civic organizations.

“This grant enables us to create opportunities for economic growth, training and educational programs and to help local leaders throughout New Jersey develop regional plans that leverage the strengths of existing industries and businesses in their communities,” said Dr. George A. Pruitt, president of Thomas Edison State College. “We are honored to lead this collaborative project that will help strengthen our state.”

U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, who helped secure the federal funding for Thomas Edison State College, applauded the project.

“This critical federal funding is seed money to help grow more jobs and sprout stronger urban economies in New Jersey,” said Lautenberg, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds this program. “This grant opens the door for future investment and signals a strong commitment to help revitalize our communities and create sustained economic growth.”

The two-year project will assess strengths, weaknesses and challenges in developing strong, viable economic development plans in northern and central New Jersey, including Asbury Park, Bayonne, Bloomfield, East Orange, Elizabeth, Hoboken, Irvington, Jersey City, Lakewood, Neptune, Newark, New Brunswick, Orange, Passaic, Paterson, Perth Amboy, Plainfield, Roselle and Woodbridge.

Total funding for the project is $400,000, which includes $160,000 in funding provided by Thomas Edison State College.

Data from the project will serve as a framework for a comprehensive economic development strategy and planning tool for creating sustainable economic growth in urban communities throughout northern and central New Jersey.

The analysis will also enable leaders in government, business, higher education and the community to track job creation, infrastructure stability, innovations in biotech and communication technology, entrepreneurial opportunities and vocational and college-based training initiatives in the region.

“This project will provide the opportunity for the higher education community to create programs that enable students to prepare for careers – not just jobs,” said Pruitt. “This could create a career pipeline for urban residents who require suitable skills to take advantage of the opportunities of economic development.”

The project includes the assessment of the capacity of organizations to provide resources to the communities that help grow jobs and create career opportunities and identifying how communities can access those skill sets.

While New Jersey is considered one of the wealthiest states in the country, there is a great disparity in per capita income between urban and suburban communities. The towns and cities targeted in the North-Central New Jersey Urban Economic Analysis Project illustrate the rich cultural diversity and economic differences in the urban municipalities of Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Passaic and Union counties.

About Thomas Edison State College
Thomas Edison State College provides flexible, high-quality, collegiate learning opportunities for self-directed adults. One of New Jersey’s 12 senior public institutions of higher education, the College offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in more than 100 areas of study. Students earn degrees through a wide variety of rigorous and high-quality academic methods that can be customized to meet their individual needs. Identified by Forbes magazine as one of the top 20 colleges and universities in the nation in the use of technology to create learning opportunities for adults, Thomas Edison State College is a national leader in the assessment of adult learning and a pioneer in the use of educational technologies. The College is home to The John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy. The New Jersey State Library is an affiliate of Thomas Edison State College. Further information about admission to the College may be obtained by calling (888) 442-8372, via e-mail at or by visiting