One might think buying a shuttered casino, spending $500 million on renovations, and committing to 200 live music acts per year was enough to make Atlantic City residents happy.
Well, Atlantic City residents are happy that Hard Rock Atlantic City is coming to town. But Hard Rock isn’t stopping there. Entirely renovating the former Trump Taj Mahal is only one piece of the puzzle for the iconic brand.
The other part is building a mutually-beneficial relationship with the local community.
Hard Rock’s commitment to Atlantic City
In a meeting held in February, Jim Allen, Hard Rock International chairman said, “We need the community to be proud of what we are doing.”
Allen knows the company’s relationship with both officials and residents is the key to growing a sustainable business and a thriving tourism market.
Hard Rock also recognizes that a healthy community alliance means a strong customer base. They didn’t come to town to steal customers away from existing casinos.
Instead, Hard Rock Atlantic City plans on bringing new customers to The Boardwalk. It is eager and excited to partner with local representatives to help make that happen.
A president with ties to Atlantic City
To that end, Hard Rock has appointed individuals with ties to Atlantic City to their executive management team. It is just another way to show how important the local culture is to their business.
Matt Harkness, the president of Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, is a New Jersey native, and the majority of his career has been in Atlantic City.
“I believe in the renaissance of Atlantic City, and I am confident Hard Rock will set a new standard in this city and our region,” Harkness said in an interview in Light’s On. “Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City will draw an enormous amount of interest to Atlantic City. It will truly be unlike anything else this town has ever experienced.”
Harkness touts being a member of the Hard Rock team as a highlight of his career. He is grateful to be part of an organization that is globally-known for its commitment to luxury, entertainment, and lifestyle.
In truth, Harkness values Hard Rock’s enthusiasm for being an active community member — something he agrees shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“What I get out of it, personally, is the commitment Hard Rock makes to being a good neighbor and citizen.”
Community outreach is the name of the game
Last week, Hard Rock Atlantic City announced the appointment of Rob Lee to the position of vice president of community relations and governmental affairs in another community meeting.
Lee, whose work history includes prior community outreach work, also has ties to Atlantic City including a role with the Stockton University Gateway project.
“I’m excited about the position,” said Lee to the Press of Atlantic City, adding he wants to support residents and small businesses in the city.
“My goal is to be a part of the community and continue to be a part of the community. You will see my face in this community.”
Harkness and Lee understand that a strong connection between Hard Rock and Atlantic City is crucial. It will require nurturing and dedicated resources to the cause to ensure success. Harkness called Lee an “obvious choice” to make that connection happen.
Atlantic City is ready to buy-in to Hard Rock’s vision
Councilman Kaleem Shabazz, chairman of the planning and development committee, is excited to see Hard Rock Atlantic City making such an effort. He too recognizes the need to keep the community involved by sharing their vision for the future.
“We’re glad that they believe in Atlantic City and that they see that Atlantic City is a place to invest,” Shabazz said.
The point is, Hard Rock AC is ever-mindful of its connections to the city it now calls home. And when the property opens later this summer, that connection will be ongoing.
“We are more excited about this opportunity today than we were a year ago,” Allen said to the Press. “We are going to spend our money, and we are going to change perceptions.”
And some would say they already have.