STATE ECONOMIC RECOVERY BOARD FOR CAMDEN

April 15, 2003
At the offices of the Camden County Council of Economic Opportunity

MINUTES OF THE MEETING

Members of the Board present: State Treasurer, John E. McCormac, Chairman; Chief Operating Officer Randy Primas; Mayor Gwendolyn Faison; City Council President Angel Fuentes; Marge Della Vecchia representing Commissioner Susan Bass Levin and Louis Cappelli, Jr. representing Freeholder Director Jeffrey Nash; and Dan Leonard representing Assemblyman Joseph Roberts, Legislative Member; Public Members; William Hosey, Robert Milner, Reverend J.C. Jones, Vice Chairman; Rosa Ramirez and Rodney Sadler.

Absent: Tonio Burgos representing Anthony Coscia, Chairman of the NJ Economic Development Authority.

Also Present: Caren S. Franzini, Executive Director of the EDA, Michael Heningburg, Asst. Counsel, Governor's Authorities Unit; Anthony DeFelice, Deputy Attorney General.

Chairman John McCormac called the meeting to order at 10:10 a.m.

In accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, Ms. Franzini announced that notice of this meeting has been sent to the Star Ledger, the Times, the Courier Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer at least 48 hours prior to the meeting, and that a meeting notice has been duly posted on the Secretary of State's bulletin board at the State House.

MINUTES OF BOARD MEETING

The first item of business was the approval of the March 4, 2003 minutes of the Board.
MOTION TO APPROVE: Ms. DellaVecchia SECOND: Mr. Primas AYES: 10

A presentation was made by Arnold Byrd of the Camden County Council of Economic Opportunity on the community services that the Council offers to City and County residents.

Member Senator Bryant entered the meeting at this time.

Cliff Henry presented the draft Strategic Revitalization Plan. George Kelly presented the draft Capital Improvement and Infrastructure plan. Both gentleman highlighted the twin goals of the plans to expand job opportunities in Camden for Camden city residents and to link economic development to neighborhood revitalization.

Chairperson McCormac asked the Members if they had any comments about the presentations.

Randy Primas discussed how the City proposes to use Community Development Block grant funds and other city funds to assist transitional neighborhoods with redevelopment planning.

Mayor Faison noted that this would involve a partnership effort between the Mayor and Chief Operating Officer's offices.

Senator Bryant noted that the fiscal impact of the Municipal Recovery Act was much greater than the $175 million authorized for bonds. The matching grants required of the institutions for projects authorized by the bill results in $225 million for economic development projects. He also pointed out that these tax exempt institutions would be responsible for payments in lieu of taxes for the first time. In addition, the funds are anticipated to leverage substantial private investment in the City. The Act also directs state agencies to prioritize applications for funding from the City which will result in concentrated public investment.

Marge DellaVecchia reported on the ongoing Department of Community Affairs demolition effort and highlighted the partnership between local, state and federal agencies on the Arlington Street project. She also reported on a recent DEP NJ Tree Project event that Commissioner Levin had participated in resulting in the planting of 28 trees in the city.

Chairman McCormac opened the meeting to the public for any comments.

Mongolisa Davis expressed his concern that waterfront development job opportunities were not trickling down to neighborhood residents and cited a need for greater training.

In response, Senator Bryant reported on his ongoing discussions with union representatives to increase apprenticeship opportunities on Camden projects. He noted that a community wide session will be held on May 14th to inform residents on how to access job opportunities provided by construction projects in the city. American Community Partnerships will be conducting training to meet all the requirements in order to become apprentices. Other measures he is discussing with the School Construction Corporation is easing bonding requirements for small firms and providing remedial/GED training to occur this summer so residents could gear up for September start to apprenticeship programs. Additionally, he is suggesting that the School Construction Corporation and institutions unbundle contracts so that small firms have more opportunity to bid on projects.

Bill Hosey noted that he is the Governor's labor representative to the ERB. He spoke last week at building trades council and American Community Partners to discuss upcoming construction projects. All are gearing up for apprenticeships in September but there are some important requirements like a GED and the need for a vehicle.

Roy Jones related that he had heard a presentation from the Greater Camden Partnership on April 14th that $800 million was committed to downtown and waterfront projects. In his opinion, large scale waterfront development projects that have been built across America have not resulted in neighborhood based economic growth. He feels a similar scaled commitment should be made in Camden and challenged the Board to drive the vision for neighborhood revitalization. He also felt that its important to create entrepreneurs, recognizing those that don't have college degrees. He pointed out that nothing ensures that the unions hire local people. Finally, he spoke of the environmental problems related to contaminated sites scattered throughout the City.

A woman associated with the Parkside Neighborhood Business Organization suggested that the Board look at leadership and management mentoring opportunities for businesses and organizations working in the city.

Angel Cortero discussed the need for improved educational opportunities from the Camden School District.

Stephen Dragos of the Greater Camden Partnership noted that audience member Mr. Jones had referred to the Vision Plan for downtown Camden that the Greater Camden Partnership had presented at a meeting the night before. One hundred people came to the presentation that unveiled a single vision plan for the downtown that resulted from a planning session and process that involved numerous people. He noted that the plan called for $400 million in private investment in the next 10 years. He offered copies of the plan to whomever was interested.

Yolanda DeNeely Aguilard -Praised the plans and the work behind them and noted that the letter she received from Treasurer McCormac giving her an update of the planning process was extremely helpful. She hade made multiple copies of it and distributed it to her neighborhood. She recalled the work of the many Camden residents that had worked to get the Municipal Recovery Act passed and their continuing interest in the work of the ERB.

A gentleman discussed the environmental and health issues in the city and opined that all projects and strategy must address these conditions. He believes that there is a lack of information and educational outreach to citizens to address concerns.

Kelly Francis of the Camden Taxpayer Association discussed the City budget and was asked by Chairman McCormac to restrict his comments to economic development projects and other matters pertinent to the ERB only. Mr. Francis noted that the plans should highlight the easy access the city has to rail and the Philadelphia airport.

Valerie Devlin of the Camden City Garden Club discussed the club's recent work and asked if the aquarium and Camden Children's Garden were being addressed by the Plan. Chairman McCormac referred her to a staff member for subsequent discussion.

Councilman Fuentes noted that an additional presentation of the Plan was being held that evening at the Tweeter Center at 7pm. Members Sadler and Hosey noted that they would be in attendance.

There being no further business, on a motion by Mr. Fuentes, and seconded by Mr. Primas, the meeting was adjourned at 12:19 p.m.

Certification: The foregoing and attachments represent a true and complete summary of the actions taken by the State Economic Recovery Board for the City of Camden at its meeting. Caren S. Franzini, Executive Director, EDA Asst. Secretary, ERB

Caren S. Franzini, Executive Director, EDA
Asst. Secretary, ERB