Christie’s Secretive AC Summit Today

Gov. Christie convenes today a summit to “kick off a working group to address the challenges confronting Atlantic City and its changing landscape.”  It is scheduled to start at 2:00 pm, last about 90 minutes, but amazingly it is not open to the press or public. Capiol Quickies reports “Except for opening remarks, the meeting will be held in private, though Christie will make public remarks around 3:30 p.m.” His press office indicated that the participants are politicians, casino directors and labor union leaders, hardly a representative group to kick off an important effort. So much for a “transparent” approach. The most contentious issue is likely to be casinos in northern New Jersey, but the important need is to develop plans to help Atlantic County’s economy.  

Richard Stockton College Economics Associate Professor Oliver Cook has provided me a list of proposals/and or projects that have been aired in various venues over the past several months. His colleague Tony Marino is responsible for compiling this thought-provoking group of possible actions to strengthen the local economy. This should be “must reading” for summit participants and anyone seriously concerned about AC’s future. It appears below the fold.

For more information about AC’s crisis and its future, you can read the following articles from the multi-part Blue Jersey series: The Casino Windfall Is Dead. Long Live Atlantic City!

Part I talks about the end of the NJ casino windfall.

Part II provides a walk up the Atlantic City boardwalk with snapshots of people and places where three casinos are about to close.

Part III questions the feasibility of casinos in the Meadowlands.

Part IV reviews the slow growth in non-casino gambling revenue, in spite of hype from Gov. Christie.

Part V with too much ado about the “casino crisis,” talks about the real problems and needs of people living in the greater AC area.

Part VI explains why casinos might not be of much help and discusses some other opportunities for AC growth.


Part VII talks about broadening AC’s industry base in order to reduce reliance on summer tourism and casinos.  

PROPOSALS TO STRENGTHEN THE LOCAL ECONOMY

(Tony Marino compiled this list and designed its organizational structure.)

Transportation related proposals

Small cruise ships docked in the Inlet or Farley Marina

Big cruise ships docked in the ocean, either at anchor or at a specially built pier

ACY flights from Europe

ACY commercial flights from various US cities, especially from cities without casinos

ACY charter flight increases to each casino

ACY cargo flights and onsite cargo warehouses

ACY and Expressway elevated highway connection

ACY connected technology research park

Seaplane flights from Manhattan to the Inlet area

High speed Mag-Lev train to Philadelphia

Increase train runs to every hour on the AC Rail Line

Build a new train station at Pomona; ultimately connect it and the ACY terminal by rail

Encourage casinos to renew coin incentives to rebuild charter bus passenger numbers

Within AC, build a “gondolas in the sky” system

Build an elevated people mover system between the rail terminal and the Boardwalk

Allow electric trams on the Boardwalk

Casino related proposals

Pass legislation making it difficult to close an AC casino

No deed restrictions should a casino be sold

Delay as long as possible casinos outside AC in order to allow the resort more time to diversify

Legalize and implement sports betting, limited only to AC based casinos

Remove impediments to online gaming and limit it to casinos based in AC

Put enough “poison pills” in casino legislation to defeat it

If there is a referendum, rally South Jersey voters to vote against it

Restore the casino regulations that were eliminated that allowed casinos to reduce jobs

Eliminate regulations that hurt casinos’ bottom line and profitability

Enable casinos to be purchased and owned by their employees

Cooperate with the inevitable—casinos up north—in exchange for a revenue fund just for AC

A casino authorized up north must also have a casino in AC

Provide retraining funds for casino workers who lose their job to keep them in the area

Lengthen their unemployment payments to keep money flowing into the local economy

Encourage remaining AC casinos to offer “looser” slot machines to rebuild patronage

They should also offer better comps and gifts to their players to ensure their loyalty

Make all casino parking free, or limit maximum charge to $5

Encourage all remaining casinos to increase their efforts to generate non-gaming revenue

Need to change Atlantic City proposals

Bulldoze everything on the bay side of Arctic Avenue and start anew (the Palley proposal)

Tear down all vacant buildings

Light up the Boardwalk and Boardwalk Hall; keep the Boardwalk and streets clean

Repave the streets, make Pacific Ave. a one way street, synchronize traffic lights

Remove the Homeless Shelter and John Brooks Recovery Center to the mainland

Find “better” city locations for Sister Jean’s Kitchen and the Salvation Army building

Provide better police protection for the entire city

End the drug wars and gang violence that threaten the safety of neighborhood residents

Change the perception that the city is not safe

Force “inappropriate” stores off the Boardwalk

Keep beach bar noise at levels that neither threatens business opportunity nor residents’ sleep

Restructure municipal government to better serve the residents and business community

Find solutions to reduce city property taxes to attract business and residential development

Atlantic City non-casino economic proposals

Encourage boutique hotels with elegant rooms and service

Schedule more warm weather beach entertainment and festivals

Increase the number of year round entertainment acts at Boardwalk Hall

Bader Field:  build a permanent entertainment stage and use the facility frequently

Bader Field:  attract a major amusement/entertainment company to build an all-weather facility

Bader Field:  turn it into an ecotourism park

Bader Field:  connect it via ramps directly to the Expressway to help attract any of the above

Ensure that any closed casinos remain open as hotels

If closed, determine if casino towers can be converted to condominium residences

Encourage developers to build condos and townhouses throughout the Tourism District

Expand the number of stores at The Walk after the Pro Bass Shop opens

Ensure that The Pier remains open and expands its offerings

Put an all-weather bubble over the Boardwalk

Encourage Steel Pier to put a bubble over at least a portion of its facility

Allow zip lines from hotel towers to extend over the Boardwalk to the beach

Build a zip line tower next to the Pier and run the line parallel to the Boardwalk

Convince Stockton to operate a campus in Atlantic City

Encourage AtlantiCare to expand its role in Atlantic City

Use “eds and meds” as incentives to attract people to buy condos and townhouses

Atlantic City non-casino economic proposals (continued)

Build a major aquarium at Gardner’s Basin

Encourage additional developments at Gardner’s Basin

Encourage major entertainment companies to build all-weather facilities in the city

Aggressively court national conventions, trade shows, and gate shows for the Convention Center

Concentrate efforts on regional (not national) conventions, trade shows, and gate shows

Encourage remaining casinos to focus on business meetings for 50 to 2500 attendees

Establish “Innovation Districts” in the city

Provide more funding to advertise the “new” Atlantic City and all of its amenities

Local media must concentrate on positive news

Economic options outside of Atlantic City

Technology research park near the airport

Cargo and shipping facilities at the airport

Wineries throughout South Jersey; craft beer ventures

Expand the coastal fishing industry

New agricultural production ventures

Medical marijuana growing and distribution centers

Medical research, including a medical school

Light manufacturing facilities near Expressway or Parkway ramps

Expanded retail development near Expressway or Parkway ramps

Better “connectivity” of South Jersey tourism venues with Atlantic City’s visitor market

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