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Gov. Murphy, state leaders convene group to find ways to improve Atlantic City

In a meeting held on Zoom Tuesday, state officials and private sector leaders kicked off a new effort to find ways to improve the future of one of the state’s most well-known cities.

It was the first meeting of the Atlantic City Restart and Recovery Working Group, Gov. Phil Murphy announced. Discussions ranged from residents’ health and wellness to the city’s economic outlook and workforce development. The group is also looking to find ways on how to fully reopen the city safely as the coronavirus pandemic continues its course.

“From day one, our Administration has made Atlantic City’s revitalization a top priority that includes commitments to strengthening local government and diversifying the regional economy, and we cannot allow our progress to backslide,” Murphy said in a statement. “This collective effort is not about one industry, or one neighborhood – it’s about positioning the entirety of the Atlantic City community to emerge on the other side of COVID-19 stronger and more resilient than before this emergency started.”

Joining Murphy was Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, and legislators from Atlantic County, State Sen. Chris Brown and assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato, as well as Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. A number of other stakeholders such as union leaders and business leaders were on the call.

The group will be spearheaded by Oliver, who also serves as Commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA). She said the city’s diversification is vital to see the city reach its full potential.

“Governor Murphy and I are united in the restart and recovery efforts for the City of Atlantic City. We are determined to build on the great progress that was made in Atlantic City pre-COVID-19,” Oliver said in the statement.

“This diverse, new working group includes some of the best and brightest minds in the State of New Jersey to help tackle the economic, health, and community wellness issues facing Atlantic City. I am confident that through their work, and with an even deeper commitment to renewing and diversifying the economy, that prosperity and growth will be attainable for all Atlantic City residents.”

Known for a long time as a casino destination, Atlantic City has been trying to find footing in ways to open new channels for businesses to not solely relying on the gaming industry to help fund the city’s economic coffers and not rely on casinos being the primary employing block of the municipality.

The multi-faceted group has been broken down into subcommittees, with goals on improving job training opportunities to Atlantic City residents in both existing and emerging sectors, providing technical assistance to small minority-owned businesses, and working on social issues that include the relationship between law enforcement and the community.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of us in ways we could have never imagined. As the largest regional business group in South Jersey, we are acutely aware that when Atlantic City prospers the entire region prospers – people are working, businesses are thriving, economic activity is growing - and as a result, the entire state is prosperous,” CEO Christina M. Renna of the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey said in the statement.

Renna also will serve as the group’s vice chair.

Health initiatives are also on the docket, explicitly focusing on the importance of getting tested for the coronavirus, cooperating with contact tracers, addiction recovery, mental health, and maternity care for women. At one point, Atlantic City had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the state.

“It’s a great day here in the City of Atlantic City and I’m honored to serve on the committee with various stakeholders, who offer a broad base of knowledge & expertise,” Mayor Small said. “The committee’s goals align with my administration’s vision to improve the quality of life for residents, improve small businesses and create jobs. I am confident that we will get through this together, tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” 

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Media Contact : By Chris Franklin | For |

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