The report on AC
The spring edition of the South Jersey Economic Review — put out by the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University — gave its takeaways on recent developments in AC and what they mean moving forward.
The report by Oliver Cooke, Associate Professor of Economics at Stockton, ticked off several of the positive happenings in recent months for the New Jersey resort town:
The recent announcement that a group of investors led by Hard Rock International will buy the Taj Mahal, whose closure last October dealt the metropolitan area its fifth casino closure since early 2014, provided the latest proof that Atlantic City’s ongoing redevelopment may have finally begun to gather momentum. …
And, the state’s February announcement that it had successfully brokered a settlement in the long-running tax dispute between the City of Atlantic City and the Borgata casino effectively removed one of the largest fiscal clouds that has hung over the beleaguered City of Atlantic City in recent years.
Not everything is unicorns and rainbows in AC
The SJER’s excitement about the future of AC was still tempered, however.
Despite this recent good news, the fact remains that Atlantic City’s redevelopment will take many years. By virtually any measure, Atlantic City’s economy has just experienced a lost decade.
But still, the report is more bullish on AC than any such report in recent memory:
The good news … is that there are clear signs that the pace of redevelopment appears to be accelerating. Still, there remain several fundamental questions surrounding Atlantic City’s redevelopment.
What’s next for Atlantic City
As noted above, Hard Rock’s coming involvement in AC might be the best sign yet that outside investors see potential in turning around the mess that has been AC in recent years.
Much of the positive outlooks depends on AC’s ability to diversify its workforce beyond the hospitality and entertainment industry, while also attracting a younger population base — millennials — to town.
Those are long-term and wide-lens issues, however. One of the biggest sign posts on the way to full recovery for AC is how the state takeover of the AC’s finances proceeds. As the city government itself regains its footing, stability — and perhaps even economic growth — could be on the horizon.