New Jersey Quietly Slices out High-Tech Base in Its Heartland Drawn by Universities, Major Electronics Companies and Research Complexes Are Turning Route 1 into the Most Prominent High-Tech Corridor in the Mid-Atlantic States

Article excerpt

JIM CLINGHAM is looking forward to May 26. On that day, the nearby township of West Windsor will be the first community in central New Jersey to carry a special sign identifying it as a high-technology community along US 1, the main east-west highway.

Mr. Clingham, who heads a local high-tech group, expects other towns here will soon display similar signs.

US 1 - or Route 1 as most folks here call it - is located just a few miles from downtown Princeton. The highway is becoming the most prominent high-tech corridor in the Mid-Atlantic states, similar to Route 128 in Boston, or Silicon Valley in northern California.

Route 1 slices its way southwest across New Jersey for 20 miles from New Brunswick to Trenton before crossing the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. In the 10- to 12-mile section between New Brunswick and Princeton are found the Johnson & Johnson headquarters, large facilities for Bristol-Myers Squibb, Siemens, the Forrestal (research) Center, the David Sarnoff Research Center, and Dow Jones & Co. A new color printing plant for the New York Times is located north of Princeton, a half hour drive off Route 1. No overall planning agency

"Route 1 is the classic case of trying to build a 21st century institution on the back of an early 20th century technological community and an early 19th century political environment," says James Hughes, associate dean of the School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. There is no overall planning agency for the Route 1 corridor, Mr. Hughes notes, reflecting New Jersey's historical distaste for centralized government.

Also along Route 1 are a number of major Japanese and Korean electronics firms, many of them arriving in the past few years. Following NEC in 1988, Matsushita Electronics, Hitachi, Samsung, and others have located nearby.

Dozens of smaller companies are located along secondary roads that intersect Route 1. Many are electronics firms specializing in research on high-definition television. The HDTV research under way here - much of it concentrated at the David Sarnoff Research Center, a subsidiary of SRI International - has branded the region Video Valley.

"The presence of the universities is the key to all the development," says Jay Brandinger, executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology, a state agency.

Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, is located at New Brunswick. Driving west, one comes to Princeton University. Other universities, colleges, and research centers cluster near Route 1, including the Institute for Advanced Study, where Albert Einstein once conducted research. …


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