Is Camden on the Cusp of Revival?

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Chris Goodman hasn’t been in Camden very long, but already he’s seen one significant change.

“The first year I was here, there was a big memorial on the lawn of City Hall — a cross for every person murdered,” said Goodman, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Policy & Administration at Rutgers-Camden; he arrived on campus two-and-a-half years ago. “It was a big deal.

And now? “That’s not there now. There’s a pop-up park.”

Camden has long been known for two things: Violence and poverty. It’s a regular stop on the “ruin porn” touring circuit for journalists chronicling America’s urban decay — just last spring Rolling Stone labeled the city “America’s Most Desperate Town” under the headline: “Apocalypse, New Jersey.”

But maybe things are turning around.

Violence is down. The bond rating is up. A supermarket just opened. The 76ers are opening a practice facility. The city is rebuilding its governing capacity after an embarrassing state takeover in 2002. There are dozens of small metrics, taken together, that suggest this small city across the Delaware River from Philadelphia may be gathering the strength to escape its reputation as one of America’s worst places.

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Interview: Camden Mayor Dana Redd on Her City’s Revival

Camden Mayor Dana Redd in her office. The city is showing signs of recovery, at long last.

Camden Mayor Dana Redd in her office. The city is showing signs of recovery, at long last.

Related: Is Camden on the Cusp of Revival?Four reasons to think the city Rolling Stone called “Apocalypse, New Jersey” might truly be on the upswing. 

Everything’s coming up Camden.

Known mainly for its violence and poverty, the city across the river from Philadelphia may be witnessing a recovery. Violence is down, the bond rating is up, and a grocery store has even opened. The 76ers are even making it their second home, locating their practice facilities here in exchange for a major tax break. The city is a long way from being placid and perfect, but it’s climbed beyond the depths it had sunk to just a few years ago, when the state had to take it over entirely.

Mayor Dana Redd talked to Philly Mag recently about the work that has gone into reviving her city.   “Ultimately and over time, I expect to see our unemployment rate come down, I expect to see more citizens working, and to attract a middle-class base back to Camden,” she said.

Some excerpts:
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(UPDATE) Lockheed Incentive Request Is Delayed

[Update 12:08 p.m.] The Economic Development Authority has delayed action on Lockheed’s request.

The Courier-Post reports:

“The Lockheed Martin project will not be advancing to the board meeting for this month,” Erin Gold, an authority spokeswoman, said before Tuesday’s meeting. “As is sometimes the case with projects the EDA board is set to consider, additional materials are needed to move forward.”

International Business Times notes the postponement came “just hours” after it published a report that a Lockheed-affiliated PAC had contributed $50,000 to the Republican Governors Association, which is run by Christie.

[Original] Defense contractor Lockheed Martin is eyeing Camden as the location of its next facility, but wants $107 million in state incentives to do so.
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Better Beer Fest: Camden or Chester?

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This Saturday, Septemebr 6th, beer festivals are happening in both Camden, New Jersey and Chester, Pennsylvania.

For the 4th annual MGK Brew Blast at the Battleship New Jersey, guests will be able to enjoy 50 craft brews from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Battleship deck provides a great view of the Philly skyline and guests will also get to hang out with some of the hosts from the station.

Tickets for the event are $45 each; however, group discounts are available. Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office on the day of the event.

Further down the Delaware » 

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