STATE ECONOMIC RECOVERY BOARD FOR CAMDEN
July 22, 2003
At Rutgers University
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; Public Members; William Hosey, Reverend J. C. Jones, Vice Chairman; Rosa Ramirez and Rodney Sadler.
Absent: Tonio Burgos representing Alfred Koeppe, Chairman of the NJ Economic Development Authority, Jeffrey Nash, Robert Milner, Senator Wayne Bryant and Assemblyman Joseph Roberts.
Also Present: Caren S. Franzini, Executive Director of the EDA, Bette Renaud and Anthony DeFelice, Deputy Attorney General.
Chairman John McCormac called the meeting to order at 10:27 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
Chairman McCormac asked for a motion to approve the June 20, 2003 minutes of the Board.
MOTION TO APPROVE: Mr. Primas SECOND: Mr. Hosey AYES: 9
Barry Rosenberg, President of Steiner + Associates, Inc. presented information on the Camden Aquarium Expansion and Renovation Project and the use of the $25 million ERB grant application.
Rose Ramirez asked what the Academy is and how they are educating citizens. Mr. Rosenberg explained that the Academy is a non-profit that has been operating the Aquarium and developing educational programs for children and residents. He explained that Steiner would take over the operation of the Aquarium from the Academy but that the Academy would continue to do educational outreach and programs.
Randy Primas spoke as a member of the Academy Board. He talked about the summer camp program operated by the Academy and other successful outreach to citizens.
Ms. Ramirez asked how the project met he Strategic Revitalization Plan's goals to create employment and to increase revenues for the City.
Mr. Rosenberg explained that each individual component will create jobs, resulting in several hundred new jobs. Steiner has met with unions about job training programs and is committed to recruiting and hiring city residents and allowing existing Aquarium employees to access promotional opportunities.
He then explained that the $1.5 million per year payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) to the City will stay in place. Additionally, the expansion project will also include a $.50 per ticket charge, estimated at $400,000-$500,000 in revenues to the City per year.
Sales tax dollars will also be generated. Currently, there is no sales tax collected because the facility is operated by a 501c3 corporation, the Academy.
Ms. Franzini clarified that the sales tax would go back to the state Urban Enterprise Zone fund, but that the EDA is currently working on a model for the waterfront area development where bonds would be sold to pay for additional development that would be secured by tax revenues generated by the improvements.
Reverend Jones asked how the firm will recruit for "high level" professional jobs.
Mr. Rosenberg stated that Steiner will look to promote from within, and recruit current employees that know the facility. All jobs will be open to Camden residents.
Ms. Ramirez asked if Steiner will do training.
Mr. Rosenberg stated that Steiner would operate training programs that are modeled on the renowned Pike St. Market Place training program in Seattle.
Ms. Franzini noted that the Project Review Committee had met and asked Mr. Rosenberg to talk about the Kentucky experience that Steiner has had working with the community in Newport and that he had described to the Committee.
Mr. Rosenberg noted that the Enterprise Zone program in Newport required 25% of employees to live in City and today 70% of employees live in city. Steiner has attracted residents with various programs including discounts to employees and encouraging them to be "Ambassadors" for the Aquarium.
Steiner worked with the city's Police & Fire departments to create secure systems to ensure safety of visitors and employees.
Mr. Rosenberg added that in Camden, the firm has taken care to integrate the project Master Plan into the existing city street grid so that the development is open to the downtown as well as the waterfront.
Council President Fuentes stated that the various meetings he attends in the City, a continuing theme is job creation. He believes that the City needs a training center, a one stop site where people can go for job interviews, skills assessment etc.. He asked if the city has a clearing house for jobs.
Chairman McCormac stated that the Department of Labor has initiated this and will be presenting their Camden Initiative at the September meeting.
Mayor Faison noted that the City has also begun that process by bringing together unions, employers and other stakeholders. The Department of Labor was part of a well attended presentation in June.
There was no public comment.
The next item was the recommendation to approve the Camden Aquarium Expansion and Renovation Project.
MOTION TO APPROVE: Mr. Sadler SECOND: Mr. Primas AYES: 9
The next item was the recommendation to approve the ERB Priority Projects List.
MOTION TO APPROVE: Mr. Primas SECOND: Mr. Sadler AYES: 9
Chairman McCormac stated that there would not be an August meeting and that the September meeting will be September 23rd at the Boys & Girls Club. He noted that an outreach session on funding had been held at the Sword of the Spirit Church the previous week and was well attended. Other sessions are being planned.
Ms. Franzini referred to the package of information distributed to the Board Members that described the ERB funds and related assistance programs. She also stated that the Priority Project List would be posted on the website.
There being no further business, on a motion by Mr. Primas, and seconded by Ms. DellaVecchia, the meeting was adjourned at 11:15 a.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.
S. Franzini, Executive Director, EDA
Asst. Secretary, ERB