Monday, March 16, 2015
The final two public forums will be held next week to gather public input for use in the creation of a countywide economic development strategy and action plan.
The first will be held on Monday, March 23 at the Atlantic City Convention Center, room 401 and a second will be held on Tuesday, March 24 at the Eagle Theatre, 208 Vine Street, Hammonton. Both forums will take place 6-8 PM. Parking is free (with validation at Convention Center).
“Public participation is essential to this effort,” explained County Executive Dennis Levinson. “This plan should reflect the ideas and desires of our residents and businesses. We cannot rely so heavily on the hospitality and tourism industry as competition continues to increase all around us. We need to retain and grow our local businesses as well as build on our assets to attract new industries that will create good paying jobs and a stable tax base.”
The economic development action plan is a cooperative effort of Atlantic County government and the Atlantic County Improvement Authority in partnership with AngelouEconomics, a nationally recognized consulting firm.
According to Levinson, Atlantic County has taken the lead for economic development to fill the void left by state agencies that no longer have the financial backing or mandate to do so.
Since January 2015, the AngelouEconomics team has met with over 600 local stakeholders and 10 industry focus groups. Its attention is now focused on the public to provide input in determining a new direction for Atlantic County focused on partnership, regional cooperation and economic diversity.
In addition to attending the public forums, the public may also share their ideas by taking the online survey available at www.atlanticcountyactionnow.com. There is a survey for residents and another for business owners. Printed copies of each survey are also available at the 10 branches of the Atlantic County Library System. Locations and hours are available at www.atlanticlibrary.org or by calling (609) 625-2776.
To date, 850 surveys have been submitted. It is hoped that the total will be closer to 1,000 by March 27 when the surveys are expected to close so results can be reviewed and analyzed.
The March forums follow an earlier forum that was held in February at Atlantic Cape Community College’s Mays Landing campus. Approximately 100 people attended despite snow earlier that day.
“We really hope to get a good turnout on March 23 and 24. Upon the conclusion of these forums, the AngelouEconomics team will be hard at work in preparing the plan with the information they have received and their own research,” noted Levinson. “We are adhering to a very aggressive timeline and expect to receive the plan in July with a September roll-out.”
Residents and business owners are encouraged to participate and be part of the change in helping to shape Atlantic County’s economic future.