Engage Atlantic City Panel

Engage Atlantic City Panel


okay well welcome back everyone we will
now begin our panel discussion and so
first I would like to introduce all our
panelists this evening and as they come
up and get miked I’ll give you a brief
bio of everyone who’s here so why don’t
we all come on down
as we get set up
first I would like to introduce mr. Evan
Sanchez who is an entrepreneur with his
sights set on the long-term renaissance
of Atlantic City for nearly a decade
starting from his time at Columbia
University even has worked in leadership
positions in management and sales
Even returned to his hometown of
Atlantic City in 2015 and in his efforts
to promote positivity he co-founded this
is AC a nonprofits grassroots community
movement he also serves as president of
the Atlantic City Arts Foundation
president of the Atlantic City Community
Fund and a board member of the Absecon
light lighthouse
Evan co-founded authentic city partners
in 2016 to create development projects
in Atlantic City with a singular
commitment to better the lives of those
in our community
ACP’s first project is the Tennessee
Avenue Renaissance which includes hay
day a community centered coffee shop he
started with two of his oldest friends
next we have Dr. Merydawilda Colon
who is the executive director of the
Stockton Center for community engagement
and professor of social work in her
position as the executive director Dr.
colon has established several homework
completion programs in collaboration
with the Atlantic City Police Department
and the Atlantic City Housing Authority
and urban development agency as well as
the city of Pleasantville and the
Pleasantville Police Department
she also initiated among other projects
to programs for English learners and a
naturalization course in our local
community her areas of research include
hospice attitudes of Latinos toward
towards hospice acculturation and
Latinos of community outreach next we
have Dr. Ellen Mutari
who is a professor of economics at
Stockton University Dr. Mutari is one of
the co-authors along with Dr. Deborah
Figart and Marilyn Power of living
wages equal wages gender and labor
market policies in the United States she
is a past president of the Association
for social economics and an editorial
associate for the popular economics
magazine dollars and cents she recently
completed a study for Stockton’s hughes
center for public policy on sustainable
economic development the role of child
care modeling the potential impact for
Atlantic City and last but not least we
have Dr. Deborah Figart who is the
distinguished professor of economics at
Stockton University Dr. Figart is the
author of 18 books monographs or guest
edited academic journal volumes
including most recently stories of
progressive institutional change
challenges to the neoliberal economy she
is a past president of the Association
for social economics and of the
Association for evolutionary economics
both professors fide art and mutari are
authors of the recent book just one more
hand life in the casino economy which I
highly recommend you all read it’s
wonderful and it gives such insight to
life in the casino industry so we have a
very wonderful panel that we’re gonna
get started with our discussion so the
first question I have to the panelists
are your immediate reactions of the film
and what reflections you might have
after watching it and I’ll just open this up
for up anyone
Gee those two economist were articulate
marilyn looks really different though
oh yes I cut my hair and
donated it to wigs for cancer research
wigs for cancer patients it’s still
relevant one and a half to two years
later I think isn’t it mm-hmm and yet
there is a sense in which that the film
was made
I said 2015 but obviously was 2016 given
all the questions about Donald Trump so
I had to replay that in my mind it was
really sort of bad and I called the
truth of the business that the period in
which things look the most dismal and
even within the casino industry itself
now we do see casinos reopening the
property that was the Taj
Mahal is gonna be a Hard Rock Cafe Revel
is coming back as something so we’re
ocean one ocean one
ocean resort and casino
thank you
seeing that we’re seeing other things
going on and so you know t here’s a lot
of ways in which it’s still relevant and
the issues it raised are still relevant
we’ll talk about it but there’s also
been some changes
right the issues it raised you can’t just redevelop the city
by adding more casino jobs because the
monopoly was lost years ago yeah so I
think that’s what we’re gonna chat about
tonight
yeah and i think thats a nice
segue to the next question about gaming
and the film discusses the reason why
gaming was so attractive and it was the
promise of tax revenue this idea of good
jobs which I hope we we talk about lower
crime rate and economic development for
the city as a whole
so what other industries then can offer
the potential and attraction that the
gaming industry did once did for Atlantic City
evin do you want to get started
so I think that at
the end of the film you talked about sort of
the green economy I think that that’s a
no-brainer for Atlantic City I think you
look at sort of our natural assets we’re
an urbanized barrier island there aren’t
too many of those we’re in the Excel
corridor where you have Boston to
Washington sort of all the human capital
there it’s certainly something that I’ve
seen and there was a report or sort of a
study that came out I think from
some of those big design firm in New York
and it was in Fast Company and I saw it
and they were talking about we have
these big buildings that could be used
repurposed you had a human capital in
the quarter you have the wind I saw that
a Danish company the largest in the
world basically just opened an office
that seems like a real no-brainer and
obviously we’re looking at what are
industries of the future
so I think that the point was made about
the casino industry not giving up faith
on that either I think that makes a lot
of sense too right there’s still a lot
of great jobs there’s opportunities
I think for as a model for service
industry to have benefits right Atlantic City
is one of the rare places that you
can have a job in the service industry
and have benefits so I don’t think we
want to give up on that either but I
think the green economy is a real
no-brainer I think the biggest challenge
to business development to some degree
is the that we are perceived as a
one-trick pony
and that in business development
marketing and economic development in
general marketing is such an important
part of that so I think as we think
about the challenges we have with one
industry and sort of the sort of decline
of that we need to think about what are
those other industries and we need to
think about the narrative of Atlantic
City as a whole so that it can be more
attractive as we do business development
I think it’s hard to to be a planner and
say oh this is going to be our future or
this is going to be our future or this
is going to be our future although I do
agree the the wind power and the ocean
wave power is phenomenal and we ought to
be at the forefront of that in Atlantic
City and certainly the state of New Jersey
I think it’s important to
continue to support the what we’re doing
to revitalize the arts and arts
industries in the state of New Jersey
but it’s hard to predict what’s going to
be popular in film or in music or in
technology or what the next great
company is going to be that starts in
somebody’s garage or from an idea in the
sand or on the boardwalk I think it’s
important to create the conditions the
entrepreneurial conditions and the
community conditions to make that happen
and support people with that next great idea
there is one industry though that I
I think holds promise not just for
Atlantic City but for the whole state of
New Jersey and I think that that’s
medical-marijuana think about this you
have agriculture jobs you have science
and medical and pharmacy jobs you have
jobs in finance and jobs in retail
jobs in distribution jobs in trucking and
manufacturing there are so many
backwards and forward linkages for that
industry and what could potentially
happen down the line from that with
recreational use of marijuana so I think
you’re seeing a lot of challenges to old
federal law and one of them is with the
marijuana industry and the other is with
the sports betting industry I’d like us
id like us to build a little bit more on this idea
of good jobs I know it’s an important
concept in your book and it was also
mentioned in the film
what does it mean
what do people desire when they say they
want a good job and how can a community
work to make sure that organizations and
businesses can provide those jobs
so in our book to give a little plug we do
propose a definition of a good job
that’s broader than what a lot of
economists look at a lot of economists
focused primarily on just wages what the
pay is perhaps the benefits a lot of
things that were signaled is very
important in the movie and do matter but
in a sense those things those material
benefits are part of the idea that a
what a good job does is it helps you
build a life and to build a life part of
that yes is pulling in income having
benefits but it’s also ensuring that you
have health safety well-being that those
things are not undermined by your jobs
and one of the things that we found
there’s kind of two stories we found
about the casino industry one that gets
alluded to there is the deterioration of
the quality of the jobs that as the
ownership of the casinos became more
concentrated and financialized there
were fewer full-time jobs benefits were
eroding etc but one constant problem
with the casino jobs was that most of
the casinos other than Revel were
smoking so for example a woman got
pregnant she didn’t want to stay in her
job because and so women in the early
days would cycle in and out of
employment if they got pregnant but
that’s when there were jobs that you
could go back to it if you took time off
and other kinds of health and safety
hazards so those things are important
and then the woman who was becoming a
phlebotomist also talked about the idea
of having that being a phlebotomist made
her feel like she was doing something
good in the world
and so I think having a sense of purpose
in your job is really really important
and what we saw is that people look at
senior industry really struggled to the
extent that casinos promote gambling
addiction people didn’t feel good about
that but to the extent that they could
help people have a good time how people
relax those kinds of things they could
feel good about it it’s not something
that casinos have to be bad at
but that is important and if minimum even if you
don’t have a sense of purpose it’s
important to have a sense of dignity at
the job that employers treat you with
respect treat you and for those of you if you’re
in the audience students and you’re
going to be able to be a manager one of
the most important things to being a
good boss is to recognize the people who
work for you as human beings of worth
and dignity and treat them as that and
not just a line entry on your accounting
sheet that’s so important
and not only did we find that employees wanted all
those things in the casino industry but
Gallup Polling Organization has found
that workers want this nation wide
what makes the casino industry
particularly challenging for that and
Union President Bob McDevitt talked
about it in the film is the seasonality
of the jobs the part-time nature of the
jobs and as well as the cuts and the
slashing of benefits but what employees
want and they’re finding it more and
more difficult to get in today’s gig
economy with gig work and part-time work
and temporary work or the uber economy
or the lyft economy or the TaskRabbit
economy they want stable predictable
full-time hours they don’t want to be
called in at strange hours or unsocial
hours with casino work it’s middle of
the night hours and how can you build a
life how can you balance work and family
without stable predictable hours and
that’s really hard in casinos and it’s
hard on nationwide and the other thing
employees really want is some sick leave
and some personal time off because we
all have lives and they want that as well
and as you talk about lives thats the biggest challenge because from the community angle
how do you partake in activities in your
community you can’t
right
you’re tied to
a certain schedule your children and
many times they’re dropped them and
actually in your book you talk about it
parents dropping off kids for the second
shift you know the other partner to pick
them up take them home and it’s a
constant struggle to balance all of that
so how do you bring a community together
to feel that sense of pride and invest
together in human capital in what each
can bring its very difficult very difficult
and I just want to say that
these things are important not just for
the individuals they’re important for
building sustainable communities because
you know a lot of times we focus
economists like talk about capital
so there’s manufactured capital you know
things like the fact you have buildings
at casinos and there’s financial capital
but social capital is really important
communities that have networks where
people know each other they trust each
other where there’s bonds of reciprocity
have much more resiliency in the face of economic downturns than communities that don’t have that
if we’re not investing you
mentioned human capital
if were not investing in the next generation of
workers and people
communities don’t thrive and that’s another reason good
jobs are important because
profits can go anywhere in the world to be
reinvested you know casino can make
money here and put it into a casino in
Macau China but mostly wages get spent
nearby so that’s another reason that
wages are so essential to local communities
and that’s wages are actually people
yeah
and the income
people make and spend in their
communities is central to the future of
economic development in the area
great
I want to talk now about this idea of community revitalization
and maybe start with Merida Wilda if you
want to offer some thoughts and then
Evan when we think of community
revitalization what comes to mind and
how would you approach this idea
I think that all community members need to have
equal opportunity to environmental
resources that are there an open park
and the time to enjoy it
opportunities for culture we talk about
the Arts
you need to have opportunities to
experience it to embrace it to be part of it
we’re organizing an event that im part of
right now
forty-eight blocks
amazing Latinos
are telling me you know you want us to go and perform
I don’t know how I can do
that I need babysitter I need the change
in schedule I just can’t do it
so you know I think about them and I
think how do we revitalize when what I
hear is people saying to me come and
talk to me but this is the time I have
I’m doing homework with children and the
parents say to me thank you because I
have two jobs I have three jobs I don’t
have time for this so to me to
revitalise we have to have living wages
with social work hours so people can
actually be part of the community
otherwise we can bring all the
industries we want to bring in people
will continue to come up with a product
and give you the labor goals but that’ll
beginning at that very difficult very difficult to do
not that it cannot be
done I want to be part of it I think I’m
part of it but we all need to be part of
this
evan
I think what Dr. Colon talked about
and sort of access and opportunity is
something that I think about a lot in
Atlantic City in particular and I think
we have to recognize what casinos did
and didn’t do for Atlantic City
obviously that was the one industry that
we focused a lot of attention on
the poverty in Atlantic City is still
endemic still 37% federal poverty level
so more than 1 in 3 people in
Atlantic City are impoverished
that was
probably the same in 2006 I would assume
so I think that we have to think about
what opportunities are coming to
Atlantic City and how we provide equal
access and that’s a really important question I think
what everybody’s been
talking about sort of revitalization of
spirits and civic pride is a critical
piece to the puzzle as well I think the
arts and culture a big driver of that I
think forty eight blocks is a great
initiative for the city that recognizes
and celebrates our cultural richness our
diverse city and all that we already
have in Atlantic City
but Dr. Colon brings up great points if
people can’t engage and access it
we need to be thinking about that so I
think we really need to ask for whom
it’s sort of all this revitalization
happening and what does it mean for
the city itself and in the surrounding
area and I think that that’s something that
if we look at Atlantic City as our
city right in South Jersey I think that
it could be a paradigm shift and say hey
this is our city we’re gonna really work
to improve our city we’re gonna
recognize what’s great about our city
already I think that’s a really
important part of the discussion
and who are those actors then that we can look to build on this idea of community revitalization
I always think the
residents of the immediate location
we’re all for Atlantic City with Atlantic City but
there are people who are living there daily
the majority are renting space
and as they said to me you know when you
rent space in a place you don’t know how
long you get to be in that one place
so
how do we look at that intersectionality
of all those factors you know their
gender their race their ethnicity their
religion their values
all these lights all these lights that are in the individual as part of a larger system that as many said to me
I’ve tried to buy a place I can’t afford
it
I can’t build up my credit
I can’t do all these things you’re telling me to
try to open a business
I can’t I don’t have credit and I try this and I try
this other thing and I’m still renting
and I’ve been renting over 40 years
I have one woman who plays cards with us
once a month
she’s been at this one building 43 years renting
and when she she says to me I
appreciate what you do
you’re bringing opportunities to us that
cannot afford anything
because we earn very little
and her work was
cleaning she said I didn’t make a whole lot cleaning
in retail you don’t make a
whole lot of money so what is left to
enjoy the good that life can bring as they
put it
so how do we work within the individual situation and thinking about these structural systems
and so I keep thinking about these residents that are
renting or that own a place in
Atlantic City and how do we work with them
1 on 1 on this that’s what
I just want to see happening daily how
do we involve them to tell us what they
want how they want it
and it’s a long-run viewpoint it’s hard to
think about the long run when the short
run is so painful .
but to revitalize for the long run
to make it sustainable and
sure home ownership is part the American dream
but it’s only part what we need is
living wages and a livable city
and what I mean by a livable city in Atlantic
City and cities nationwide is
cradle-to-grave livability
we need jobs
for multiple generations and community
centers and daycare centers for the
young and elder care places for the
retired and things to do in the evening
for families and weekends for families
and the evenings for Millennials and the
next generation and the generation after
that we have to think about a city
growing many generations you don’t
want people to leave the city for
example when it’s time for the kids to
go into the schools because the public
schools aren’t good so the schools have to be good
the hospitals have to be good
daycare has to be good in high quality
health care has to be good so people are
not exiting every time they
need a hip replaced or something like that so I’m thinking cradle-to-grave liveability
multiple generations
and that’s really important because a lot of
schemes for revitalizing poor
communities focus on let’s bring the
young people the college students and
the 20-somethings and have them come and
move in for a few years but then for
example I live in Philadelphia right now
I used to live close to Atlantic City
and we have lots of people in their 20s
and we have lots of retirees but people
still go out to the suburbs when they
have to raise their kids and we don’t
that to have a truly livable city a
sustainable community people need to
stay over the life cycle and that’s a
real challenge that takes public
services that takes public investment
you know that’s not something that just happens
and business investment as well
but
I think the commitment to that
vision is critical and I think that
again thinking about Atlantic City as a
city first and our city is important in
that because I think you know when I
look at sort of the language that use
that’s used about Atlantic City
often times is sort of a resort town
you know it’s not focused on locals you guys
mentioned in the movie you know we need
to think about what is attractive to
community and not necessarily just focus
on what’s attractive to tourists I don’t
think they’re necessarily always the
same that can be but I think that’s an
important part of it
I think there are a lot of sticky
capital institutions in Atlantic City
obviously you guys are coming to a Atlantic City I think that you can play a great
role and we’ll talk a little bit about
that I’m more I think the casinos
themselves are getting more engaged and
I think they realize that they are more
aligned with the city than they’re not
aligned with the city right I think that
that’s an important thing maybe before
it didn’t necessarily matter when you
have a monopoly whereas now they have to
create a thriving city and I think
you can do that where you have an experience
in and out of casinos locals and
tourists alike and I think that they’re
realizing that more as I talked to them
but I think that one thing that you
talked about that sort of this idea of
you know we have to attract we have to
retain we have to develop talent
Atlantic City in the surrounding area is
one of the worst for brain drain right
so a lot of the human capital that we
develop here and we don’t develop enough
for sure leaves the area and I think
that that’s a major challenge
and I’ve seen that with trying to
recruit talent to come back having
Atlantic City itself be more livable
because a lot of people that I know
actually would prefer to live in a city
they don’t find it yet that
Atlantic City is that city so I think that’s an
important piece of the equation too
absolutely
can you talk a little more about what you’re doing and the kinds of things your doing
sure happy to
[laughter]
so I wear many different caps and I always think
about sort of you know the different
angles and how they come together with
the Renaissance of Atlantic City and I’m
focused exclusively on Atlantic City
I live in Atlantic City I work in Atlantic City
everything I do with nonprofit is in Atlantic City
I think focus is critical
the project that I’m working on right now
from a business perspective is the
Tennessee Avenue Renaissance and what
we’re really trying to do there is
create a destination a critical mass of
amenities for people that want to visit
Atlantic City that wants to live in Atlantic City
so we’re starting with a
focus on food and beverage and also sort
of services so we have a yoga studio
that’s already opened with Grace and Glory
which is offshore here they have a
location in Philadelphia they have a
non-profit arm that they’ve created
called the leadership studio
we are in the process of opening a wine and
chocolate shop with great talent that
was in the casinos that’s now moving out
Chef Deb Pellegrino and her husband Mark
it’s a really unique concept kind of
gets back to the roots of Atlantic City
of sort of making really cool things so
they’re gonna be making chocolate
bean-to-bar on Tennessee Avenue Atlantic City
we’re opening an independent coffee shop
called Hayday again leaning into the
brand of Atlantic City William Hayday
was the not the inventor but sort of the
mask marketer of the rolling chair
realized hey everybody might want to go
on one of these on the boardwalk so that’s there is not an independent coffee shop in Atlantic City
wow
that is shocking to anybody that’s ever been to
a city that is a center of community so
we’re really trying to do that there and
then there’s the Tennessee Avenue beer
hall which is a craft beer gastropub
type this place with big outdoor space
and that’s just phase one and then we’re
really trying to attract like-minded
developers that really want to build a
mix used center of the city
so Atlantic City has obviously the big
boxes with casinos we really want to
unbox the city because
i love that phrase
especially young people are looking at and everybody realistically young old
tourist local
everybody’s kind of looking for the same things
they’re looking for authentic
experiences in urban environments and so
we really are leaning into Atlantic City
right now and really trying to bring
concepts that people are passionate about that are Atlantic City focus and really high quality
so that’s one piece of it
what you’re doing is contributing to a livable city I mean think about the typical household which is 2 adults
and something like 2.3 children I know
you can’t slice a child okay but I’m
talking about averages here so let’s
think about their typical day they’re
gonna get up and have breakfast together
hopefully you’re gonna send the kids off
to school or you need daycare or some
kind of child care quality childcare
facility at a reasonable price for that
family you need jobs for that household
for people going off to make livable
wages or maybe they went to a yoga class
before work and then they went off to
work and then after work you pick up the
kids maybe have a date night so you go
out to dinner or you go to a lecture or
an event at Stockton or you hear music
or you get some chocolate
at a club before you get some
chocolate and you hear music down at a club
sure
we need all of those things
sure
in our city
and I think that again if you
think about Atlantic City as our city
you start to see these things happening
I think that for a long time and this
happened in a lot of cities Atlantic
City maybe a little bit more
concentrated it’s a smaller city which i
think is a real opportunity because you
can see interconnectivity a lot easier
in a smaller place so I think if we can
start to solve some of the problems that
Atlantic City is faced with which are
similar problems to many other cities
Philadelphia included we can create some
scale so I think of that to me is why
Atlantic City has this microcosm of you
know 25 different languages spoken in
one of the schools representing 40
different countries we’re one of the
most diverse places on earth we have
this incredible concentration of anybody
in everybody and we have a lot of the
unique or we have a lot of the not
unique big-city problems in a small city
but if you can sort of focus on that as
a positive and say the density and the
diversity provide us an opportunity to
innovate and incubate and
iterate
wow what could we
be solving and that’s I agree with you
well you can’t necessarily figure out
what the future of the industries are I think you can start
to see some of them coming together now but
if you make a Atlantic City an attractive
place for people to want to solve
real-world problems
the amount of human capital that
you can develop which attracts retain is
incredible because I think the bones
are there but it’s about packaging it to
some degree that’s why say marketing is
critical to economic development is
committed critical to community
development I think it’s something
that maybe is one of our weakest points
honestly maybe because we didn’t have to
do that from the casino perspective it
just happened but now we have that
unique opportunity to say how do we
package all these really unique not yet
not too unique things so that you can
create scale with the challenges
and i think because the documentarians were focused on poverty and they were doing the film in a
particularly bad year there’s a kind of
a tone to the phone that it’s focusing
on some of the negative things about
Atlantic City in recent years but what I
think one of the things you’re doing is
conveying is that there is such a deep
wonderful history and community in
Atlantic City that is such an amazing
place that we live near and I don’t
think I think it’s important we’re going
to segue to talking about Stockton in
Atlantic City but I think it’s so
important that we don’t just think of it
as oh we’re going there to help well I
think of it as some kind of charity
there is so much richness and diversity
and history that we can learn from and
participate in by being a part of Atlantic City
and the proof of that really is the resiliency I mean through all this adversity and families are there they haven’t left
so we can’t lose sight of it’s again they’re experts of their situation and their resiliency it’s amazing
and that’s what drives me
to see how much they want to be in
Atlantic City and they want Atlantic
City to be different to to have what it
used to have and that’s what they’ve
tried for every day mm-hmm yeah the
history is so rich and I think it’s
something that we might lose sight of at
times but you really can’t I mean
it’s the city where Nina Simone became
Nina Simone it’s the city where Kentucky
Avenue with all of the amazing jazz
clubs but the jazz talent that came
through Atlantic City I mean we have an
incredibly rich history and I know that
times have been tough and I agree that
in the movie it feels like a devastating
tone to some degree and I think that was
in the depths of the depths but we have a
lot of rich history to call upon and
sort of build from I think it’s
important to recognize if we could find a
way to fund it in the state can we go to
Stockton for a moment let’s let’s transition
if we could find a way to fund it in the
state Atlantic City New Jersey in
Atlantic County New Jersey is still one
of the locations in metropolitan areas
with the a small percentage of its of
its adult citizens with a college degree
so if we could find a way to help people
get a leg up and study at our new campus
in Atlantic City for one of the new
emerging fields of in the labor market
of the future that would help create a
sustainable livable city in the long run
I think that’s actually a great
transition we know that opening the
building is only a series of steps to
foster a collaboration between a people
who live in the city and the students
and faculty and staff who will be
working there
what other considerations should we take
into account to make sure that that
relationship is a mutually beneficial
relationship and one that just questions
what we should we should be aware about
at where as we start this relationship I
think that again I spoke about
intersectionality of factors and
looking at individuals as individuals
and not just as a group so inevitably
we’re going to make mistakes and others have because
it’s going to be very difficult to
pretend that we know when we’re not
experts in Atlantic City life and ways of living right so we have great intentions but we
have to meet that ultimately if we don’t
listen we’re going to make mistakes I
think that’s that’s if we want to have a
mutually beneficial relationship you
can’t have that if you don’t listen you both have to speak and that’s to me we need to be aware of it or else we’re
really gonna find that frustration that
others have experienced and I think
that there’s so much richness in all
this that we shouldn’t lose sight if we
just open that dialogue and open the
walls of the University and bring the
community and we have to go in the
community be part of that community it
can’t be just the nice building on its own
that that can’t quite be if we are intentional
about this I think that’s a really
important part I think a building can be
a fortress actually and a city as small
as Atlantic City you might think you can
sit in that building and things will
happen I think I’ve learned the exact
opposite you have to get out into
Atlantic City it’s a city of
neighborhoods and you need to go out to
the city to really listen first I think
that it’s great to come in and say hey
we can be positive and make change but
understanding what that change is from
the community is really important I know
you do a lot of that listening Dr. Colon I
think that that’s a critical piece of it
I think there are models of places that
are doing this well and the Netter
Center is one of them at UPenn which is
our neighbor and I think that it makes
sense to at least look at that model
personally to sort of see what can be
learned from what they’re doing but I
think listening one and also setting
expectations is important because I
think there’s a history in Atlantic City
and you hear this in the movie of sort
of this silver bullet and there are no
silver bullets
there’s not one industry or one thing or
one campus or one university that’s
going to sort of make the difference but
a lot of small things over time but that
is frightening because I do talk to
still my old neighbors
and people who live in Atlantic City
Ventnor communities around there and
there are such high expectations right
now it’s as if Stockton is going to be
the next thing and somehow Stockton just
building this building there is going to
turn everything around even you know
I’ve talked to people sort of think
automatically this means there should be
investing in real estate and I should be
doing this and that’s like no that you
first of all we’ve got to get away
from the idea that there’s only that
just one thing it’s going to fix
everything and secondly I mean the good
thing is the building that we’re
building doesn’t look like a box with no
windows you know that’s designed to bring
bus loads of people in and leading there
and then have bus loads leave which is what the
casinos were built for originally you
know we have windows we’re designed to
interact with the community and I think
that that’s a good first step but it is
important that we do look at models
about ways in which any anchor
institution which is the lingo for this
anchor and that he was alluding to like
Penn serves in Philadelphia
the thing about colleges and often
hospitals is that they’re called were
kind of it’s called sticky capital
meaning you can close a casino here and
open one somewhere else and that
probably doesn’t matter but you can’t
just close Stockton here and open it in
Iowa you can’t it tends to be associated
with the place and so what we need to do
is build that association with place but
then create the ripples that Deb was
talking about I think in the movie and
also here by making sure that we’re
subcontracting to local businesses that
we’re nourishing providers
provision you know institutions are
going to local institutions that are
creating jobs are providing us with some
of the thing the resources and the
inputs that we need to run the
institution there that we’re hiring
people in the local community which I
know we’ve had initiatives to do with
training and job fairs and so forth all
of that stuff is really important to
make sure that the way we’re doing this
is creating ripple effects for other
businesses or multiplier
I haven’t talked about not having a
fortress yes and a welder talked about
basically going on a listening tour and
listening to the community and this is a
challenge for our University but I think
we need to bring community members in to
the University in Atlantic City campus
through programming through events it we
are part of that community so that
community needs to be invited in to this
space through summer volleyball
tournaments on the beach I don’t know
but listen to the community and let’s
figure it out
so we can be partners which 48 Blocks has been doing yes
Stockton has been working with the arts
community and others Joyce Hagen who is
here is one of spear headers of that and
I know you’ve both been involved and
that’s really important because that’s a
collaboration between people in the arts
and humanities here at Stockton and
people in the community in building a
series of programs to keep an eye out
for that
part come to that when is it Joyce June 22nd to the 25th 48blocksac.com
I want to throw out one more question and then maybe take some questions from the
audience when we think about community
revitalization we also think about
sustainability so what should we think
about when we hear this term
sustainability and in particular with
the Atlantic City and it’s Stockton
campus well for me sustainability is a
very broad term and that’s gonna happen
that we’ve talked about I mean
it’s and usually people think in terms
of environmental sustainability and
that’s very important in a small space
as you said a barrier island forty-eight
blocks long it there there’s a limited
amount of space there so we have to be
very aware of environmental impact both
understanding the natural resources that
we have but also understanding that
they’re not inexhaustible that we have
to find ways to replenish them and not
diminish them but that same approach can
be brought to other
resources as well so we’ve thrown around
the word human capital several times on
the panel and part of that has to do
with that’s the idea that we have as
human beings have productivity to
contribute to the economy and all the
students who are here you are in college
in part to augment your human capital so
that you are more desirable to employers
well that’s something we have to think
about because as that’s not shouldn’t be
just individual’s responsibility that’s
a community responsibility to ensure
that human capital is nourished and
replaced that human beings are nourished
and replaced and so Deb mentioned
childcare I did a study for the Hughes
Center you mentioned in my bio on the
need for funding childcare and the ways
in which that has thrown a ripple
effects and multiplier effects on local
communities because it has a three-fold
impact on economic development first it
makes the parents themselves more stable
employees if they’ve got know their kids
are safe and they don’t have to just
kind of worry about insecure childcare
it then raises the next generation and
it provides an industry that tends to be
small local businesses that reinvest and
purchase money purchase supplies
locally so it tends to have higher
multiplier effects than a lot of other
industries so that’s one example of
human sustainability that we need to
think about as well and I was talking
about multiple generations of sustaining
humans exactly and Awilda was talking
about the social capital not just the human capital that they go hand in hand building
communities and networks that’s
important I think seasonality is also an
important thing to do sustainability for
Atlantic City in particular I think Bob
McDevitt talked about sort of you know
pre-casinos people would work a few
months and then sort of live off of
unemployment and I think we’ve got to
think about making Atlantic City feel
less boom and bust in the cycles so you
know as we’re opening new businesses
people say well you got to get them open
by Memorial Day or Fourth of July
because you can only hit the season and
then you can’t make it and I think that
that’s a very challenging environment
for the businesses themselves from
an employment perspective from a lot of
different reasons but I think we’ve got
to think about how do we make it so that
it’s less you know sort of peaks and
valleys and a little bit more even so
that’s the sustainability I think think
about and I think that will help people
think about the livability of Atlantic
City more too when you think about it as a
year-round place to I hate to say it live
work and play
and ironically what a university does is exactly flip that because our prime time is fall to spring whereas a
traditionally Atlantic City’s prime time
was summer and can I make one final
comment about sustainability we want
this beautiful Barrier Island of 48
Blocks and our Stockton University
campus to be there and as we get ready
for our 50th anniversary another 50
years yeah or another hundred years so
we have to make sure that rising sea
levels don’t take over this precious bit
of land so we have to think about
climate change and I had a comment about children we have about 10,000
children in Atlantic City so if we don’t work with these children and there’s a group of us
organizations of Atlantic City and I’m
invited into these from Stockton and
we’re looking at child development
models so that everything I do at the
homework programs that I run and
everything that the Boys and Girls Club
does and other organizations that are
working with children we can’t agree on
certain tenets that then we can use in
the schools in our after-school program
so that we can measure outcomes because
if we want to sustain the city we we
have to count on these children and they
have to have a sense of pride in their
community early on so we’re working
towards that so I’d now like to open it
up for the audience anyone who has a
question or a comment yes
you can hear me okay I’ll use my teacher voice my question is what can Stockton do in its first semester
out there that would show the community
that we are part of the community that
we want to listen to the community can
you be more specific with what your
advice would be I like the beach
volleyball things like that how do we actually
go out and hear what people say and then
do things that will be meaningful so
they’ll know we’re serious about being
part of the community that’s well we’re
already we already have programs you
don’t even have to wait to the first
semester just come by and begin
visiting and being part of what we have
already going because we do have plenty
of activities going on in places where
all of us from Stockton can already be
present in that quite way to the
building to open its doors and once it
does open I have to tell you there are a
number of groups in the community who
have said when and what room can we use
they want they already are waiting for
us to say what’s the space like and as
you know the Boys and Girls Club is one
of those organizations waiting because
they feel that if children come into
this building and they’re part of this
building early on there is an
understanding that this is a university
and you spoke about the importance of
educating children and for instance
African-American and Latino children you
don’t tend to see that they grow up to
be in vocational trade if you look at
electricians plumbers that we have even
in New Jersey as kids say to me they say
you know our parents are not part of
that group so they’re thinking they can
go to college college can be it so I
think that opening the door for a child
to already see and walk into a building
and know this is what we call university
because when I bring them here from
Stanley Holmes Village the children said
to me so where is the University yeah
and I’m like you’re standing
is it because they don’t have a notion
of what necessarily that is and that’s the age when we need to reach out when they’re
still very much looking forward to a
future so I am already so to be part
of these and go out but also have them
come into the building cause they want to
be there I think you know sorry I’m
sorry I appreciate the question
I think it’s important in the first six
months and indeed the first year to know
that the residents of Atlantic City are
interested and smart and care about
their future and the city’s future and we
need to have a lot of open houses and we
need to figure a way logistically and
legal wise to replicate some of our open
houses on the main campus for
prospective students and day-in-the-life
where you get to hear a faculty member
where you get to visit a class or you
get to hear a talk and then it gives you
an opportunity to listen to that
community member and also to recruit
them and hear what their needs are for
their future education or their
continuing education or professional
development and then we can create
programming to help meet those needs
I think the the biggest thing and I agree
that you already are doing this now
which is really important making sure
that people in Atlantic City
feel like it is for them is really
important so I feel like implicitly
there’s sort of this idea that certain
things are for us and for them and I
think that it really really is an
important thing to sort of start to
break that down because the city can be
very siloed it’s very small but it can
be very siloed and I think that I’ve
talked to people at the Boys & Girls
Clubs where kids don’t necessarily
realize things are for them and I think
to be fair it’s kind of clear that it’s
not so I don’t think they’re wrong and I
think that it’s really important for
Stockton to be very clear that it is for
people in Atlantic City of especially at an
early age so that they
really understand that and representation
really matters right so they need to see
people look like them that are like them
that are involved and I think what you
said earlier and everybody here is
echoed listen first right stop
prescribing and go out and listen and go
on that listening tour and bring people
back to the space and make sure that
it’s open because you have to build
bridges in Atlantic City you have to build
bridges in cities in general but again I
think that’s the unique opportunity you
can literally go out and meet almost
every single person in Atlantic City if you
want to you can make that as a goal you
want to talk to 40,000 people you can do
it it’s smaller than neighborhoods in
New York or Philly so it’s a real
opportunity to really get out there and
make sure that people know that Stockton
is for them want to take another question are there any cultural
events planned for the park outside
where Stockton’s being built is that
what’s the name of that park right in front of Memorial Park
I know 48 Blocks is gonna have
initiative they did last year yeah but
my comment is that Stockton should be
engaging in that park area having open
areas for them to come in and cultural
events in that park possibly but I was
just commenting to that but my comment
is about the financial stability I have
relatives in the police and fire
department within Atlantic City and the
city itself financially is in disaster
so what are we doing as far as that’s
concerned as a community
there’s no sustainability there they
can’t afford to live I know people
who’ve had their pay cut more than
sixty percent their health benefits cut
and their hours increased so when you
talk about sustainability I particularly
know a firefighter who has four children
and is now working a second job
that’s not a unique problem to Atlantic
City obviously it’s a problem
the disinvestment in public services is a
problem throughout the United States and
you know I don’t I don’t have any magic
cure I just try to talk about it in my
economics classes right that’s about all
I can do a few people at a time well
there is a long story of decades of the
state extracting a lot of the casino
revenues from the city and not returning
back as much to the city as the city
needed and then there was the state take
over the city and the city would like
its own home rule back for a better
future so there’s a there’s a long story
and saga there that certainly needs to be
explored I’d say we got to grow our way
out of it I think that that’s a big
thing right so if you if you lose more
than half your tax base right with sort
of casinos and the fall of several
casinos right so you look at your tax
base and you say it was sliced by you
guys know better than me fifty percent
60 percent right so you lose well you
know you lose a lot of that right
they’re not even to get into what the
city never received but I think that you
from from my perspective from a business
perspective we have to make Atlantic
City more attractive to businesses to
want to do business there and I think
that it’s the perception thing to some
degree but there are some realities I’d
love to see in addition to you know Hard
Rock I’d love to see a business that
isn’t gaming related sort of make a big
announcement to say hey Atlantic City is
open for business Stockton is great
again we talked about these anchor
institutions great South Jersey
industries
those are utilities and schools that’s
not you know you know Amazon’s gonna
pick an East Coast space well maybe they
picked New York or Newark how does the
Atlantic City get a little bit of that
right just to change the perception and
then you get one and then you can build
from it so I think really focusing on
how do we grow create a sustainable
economic development model that’s a
really critical piece to sort of getting
back to the municipal levels that we
need to really sustain the city
I agree with you Evan I would like to
add that a sustainable economic
development model is not city after city
or state after state or county after
county competing yeah for the next
Amazon by giving away the store giving
away the taxes for 25 years or 30 years
yeah because then that places the
burden on the residents sure so I
support entrepreneurship I support
business I really do but business is
also part of the community and needs to
be part of the finances of that
community and pay their fair share to
that community without a doubt and I
think really I think small business is
gonna be a bigger driver for Atlantic
City and sort of seeing more of that my
business partner and I talked about sort
of letting a thousand flowers bloom in
Atlantic City if you talk about Atlantic
City as a we had really super thriving
small business scene and really although
there are still small businesses there
of course it’s a real opportunity for
growth and obviously I think businesses
are corporate citizens or however you
want to put it they’re part of the
community and I think engaging the
businesses as well as a really important
part of the Atlantic City story moving
forward but I found that a lot of
businesses want to be involved in
certain ways
as much as they can so I feel like even
to be fair to the casinos they’re really
looking at how they can engage in
community more and more but it is
important to remember that the tax
revenues that were put on specific to
the casinos primarily went to the state
and yet casino industry brought a lot of
people to Atlantic City tourists to
Atlantic City to gamble it created
issues in terms of criminal behavior and
so forth that you know associated with
the casinos that the state needed to
take responsibility local property taxes
shouldn’t have been it shouldn’t be the
entire tax base for funding our police
fire services in particularly in a
community that was innocent a moneymaker
for the whole state for so long so I
think the state owes the city yeah I
think what you’re suggesting is
the support for public services is for
full-time residents but when you have
people coming in that are double triple
quadruple right the full-time residents
you need services for all of those
people even though they’re visiting the argument would get made that oh
Atlantic City has a high police budget
given its population well its population
of residents is not who they’re
servicing those monies are servicing a
whole lot of tourists coming in too so
that’s been a way in which that’s been
mis skewed in an inappropriate way I
think we have time for one more question
I think Joyce had one I just wanted to say as people ask as Stockton folks ask what they can
do in Atlantic City and indeed Merydawilda’s there and
her comments have been to listen but I
would also stress that and it’s gonna be
really important for everyone who
listens to also be very patient because
the population of Atlantic City has been
assaulted
not really I don’t being assaulted
but they’ve been promised and promised and promised from the state
and other entities that help was on its
way right and agencies have come in and
moved through town dollars have been
spent in misguided ways yes and so there
while there’s a lot of excitement and
enthusiasm and people who are looking
forward to being able to interface and
interact with Stockton
there’s also going to be an awful lot of
caution and guardedness about being let
down again so I think it’s really
important to have that attitude that
this is gonna take much longer than you
probably anticipate because of all the
injuries that have already been foisted
on a lot of the population or at least
that’s how they regard it oh so I think
this goes to setting expectations though
to Joyce and this is something we talk
about is you know this is a marathon not
a sprint the timeline that my business partner and I
talk about is forever so we really think
that that’s it I totally agree with you
I thought when I moved back to the area
from New York
okay what can happen in 12 months or 18
months or 36 months and I think that
being back I’ve reset expectations
because of sort of how many false
promises there’s been the inertia that
was built up cyclically and I think in
the city I think that’s another thing
that the casinos did not necessarily
address those for people in this city
and so sort of I think this is something
that the movie alludes to a little bit
sort of the divide between the county
and the city and so it’s really
important to keep that in mind I totally
agree with any final thoughts before we wrap up oh good more we have one more sure we can do that
thank you first of all for having the panel discusiion
it really is important for the community I
just had a quick comment I’m born and
raised in Atlantic City have spent all of
my life I’m in real estate now I noticed
you mentioned the problem with people
renting and not being able to buy and
then I think Deb covered some of the
issues also with the taxes and with the
state I found that for the most part
when the casinos came there was no I
guess the taxes they hadn’t assessed
any of the properties so very very low
taxes and then at the height of the
market they decided to do a tax
assessment yes and it skyrocketed really
high the average person could no longer
afford to live in the city and so what
you have is I said well real-estate also you
have a house across the street paying
$12,000 to 10,000 in taxes the house
directly across who have appealed their
taxes they’re paying in 3000-4000 in taxes and a
lot of the people in the city and I’m
talking specifically about Venice Park
Bungalow Park they’re bitter because
they didn’t have the knowledge to do an
appeal they didn’t understand the
process and so what everybody started
celebrating Stockton and I totally
celebrate Stockton I’m on th SASI
board with Deb and I celebrate
everything that the community does I
think the person that spoke about some
apprehension is very correct they won’t
be able to embrace it
because they won’t feel like there’s
that this is gonna help them and it’s
gonna take a little while for us to get
to that place where people can see that
this is not something that’s gonna be a
one pony show or you know like you said
it’s gonna have to come across in time
but I think it’s really important that
the I think Evan spoke about the
businesses and small businesses being in
place Atlantic Avenue years ago was
filled with all independent businesses
and we have to get those people to come
back we have to get them to come back on
the boardwalk and actually see the ocean
okay and revitalization in terms of I
think someone spoke about a thousand
flowers visually it has to be appealing
so when someone spoke about the park
I don’t think Stockton has control of
the park but the park is going to be
very important visually when you come in
there it should really be well lit it
should really be welcoming people need
to still feel tourists also safe so
there’s so many different things I love
the fact that you had the discussion we
are all on board I want to come I want
to support I want to do anything I can
to help the city so I just want to say
thank you and just have a comment
actually that’s a wonderful way I want
to thank the panelists for this
wonderful discussion and their
contributions and I want to thank all of
you for attending this evening we have a
reception afterwards and we’d love to
continue the conversation one-on-one so
please join us just right around the
corner thank you so much
you

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