Student spenders, Economic boost

While some residents in Ewing may have their grievances with rowdy party-goers at the College, local businesses see the student population as an asset when it comes to the economic boost and acts of volunteerism the College brings to the area.

Mamma Flora's Restaurant in Ewing. (Natalie Kouba / News Editor)
APO members bag pasta for the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Mignella)

“From a business perspective, I never heard anybody complain about TCNJ,” said Nicol Nicola, economic policy specialist for the Mid Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

The College employes over 900 people, she said, in professors, maintenance workers, etc. The direct economic impact the College has on Ewing involves the people it employs and the approximately 6,000 students it brings in, living in the area and paying tuition. The indirect impact is that these people that the College brings in become consumers in the area.

Due to the housing situation this year, approximately 100 students resided in two Ewing hotels. As a town that is not a tourist attraction, Nicola said, the hotels benefited from the College in this aspect.

Students and College employees eat in Ewing restaurants, fill their tanks in Ewing, shop in local pharmacies, and commuters even stop in the Dunkin’ Donuts in Ewing for their morning caffeine fix.

Mamma Flora’s Trattoria owner, Gary, said his restaurant sees “probably a 20 to 25 percent boost when the College is in session.” Mamma Flora’s is just one of the restaurants in Ewing which sees the College as a positive asset to the town. Gary said he is sure it benefits the whole economy of the area.

Not only is the College beneficial to the local area, according to the owner, but he said he has had positive encounters with College students 99.9 percent of the time. Like any restaurant, he has had to deal with a “few unruly kids,” but he is proud to be able to give back to the College through fundraisers and other events.

The town, according to Nicola, is trying to bring even more revenue to Ewing. Through current projects, such as Campus Town and the reconstruction of the GM site, the town hopes to deter students from going outside Ewing for shopping and spending. They hope to establish a better reputation for Ewing, as well as associate the College’s name and reputation with Ewing, like in Princeton.

College students can been seen as assets to the local economy, in addition to their non-profit work. Student organizations such as the Bonner Center and the co-ed service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, volunteer in Ewing often.

Each member of APO is required to perform at least 20 hours of community service per semester. While the sites for their community service are not exclusive to Ewing, groups from the fraternity volunteer once a week at the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank and the Ewing Animal Shelter Extension League. In February, APO accepted an award for the large amount of food donations from the College in 2012.

However, it is not just the required hours that keep volunteers going back to lend a hand.

“Students who volunteer at one of our many weekly projects in Ewing keep going back every single week because they truly enjoy giving back to the town of Ewing and knowing that they are making a difference,” said Danielle Mignella, vice president of service. “It is important to show the community that we care about them.”

The Bonner Center has also been collaborating with Ewing on town projects.

“At present, we are working with Ewing’s Green Team to help them complete actions and become certified with Sustainable Jersey,” said Heather Camp, senior program director for CEL II & special initiatives.

In addition to volunteering with the Green Team, the Bonner Center organizes Community Engaged Learning Day in and outside of Ewing.

“Hopefully our relationship will continue and expand as there are many more ways we hope to work together in the future,” Camp said.