Atlantic County Executive Denny Levinson announced the formation of the Atlantic County Economic Alliance. Now official as of Nov. 18, this private sector directed, nonprofit economic development corporation will lead business attraction, retention, and marketing efforts in Atlantic County.
“The establishment of the ACEA reflects a totally new approach to economic development that takes into account the unique challenges that we now face in Atlantic County and the need to focus on job creation and economic diversity.” Levinson said. “We cannot rely on one sector of the economy alone to provide sustainable economic growth and we cannot and should not simply wait for other levels of government to come in and solve our problems.”
The formation of a nonprofit economic development corporation was a key recommendation in the economic development strategy plan for Atlantic County that was recently completed by AngelouEconomics of Austin Texas, a nationally recognized economic development consulting firm.
The corporation will play a key role in implementing the strategy and overseeing economic development throughout Atlantic County. It will be governed by an organizational board of directors that will establish a permanent board, draft the organization’s by laws and establish a membership structure.
According to Levinson, the intention is for the corporation to become financially and politically independent and to ensure continuity and sustainability in economic policy. County government will be stepping back as the ACEA moves towards self-sufficiency, but will continue to provide staff support until the organization is fully up and running.
“The reason I held off in making this announcement until after the election was so that it would not be politicized,” he said.
The members of the organizational board are individuals who stepped up and expressed a strong commitment to establishing the ACEA, either financially or organizationally, added Levinson.
It is expected that a permanent board will be in place early next year and that the ACEA will be staffed and operating by April.
The initial members of the corporation include:
- Leo Schoffer, Interim Chairman
- Jon Powell, CEO Kravco/Hamilton Mall
- Dr. Harvey Kesselman, President, Stockton University
- Dr. Jon Regis, Reliance Medical Group
- Steve Clark, Senior VP/CFO South Jersey Industries/Gas
- Carl Losco, Broker/Owner Balsley Losco Realty
- Christopher J. Paladino, President, ACDEVCO
- Dr. Peter Mora, President, Atlantic Cape Community College
- Joseph Ingemi, Cyber-Security Consultant, IBM
- Rick Dovey, President, Atlantic County Utilities Authority
- Joe Sheairs, Executive Director, Stockton Aviation Research Park
- Mitch Zitomer, Chairman, Greater Atlantic City Chamber
- Greg Sykora, Somers Point Business Association
- John Runfolo, Hammonton Chamber of Commerce
- Brett Matik, President, Harrison Beverage
According to ACEA Interim Chairman Leo Schoffer, the ACEA will fill several important gaps in Atlantic County’s economic development efforts, specifically in the areas of business retention, business attraction, and marketing Atlantic County as a place to live and do business.
“The lack of an entity singularly focused on economic development has put us at a disadvantage when competing with areas where one exists. It will show that we are serious about economic development and that we want businesses to locate here.”
Levinson added that with the completion of the Atlantic County Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan we now have a much greater understanding of the types of businesses and industries that are best suited for Atlantic County and that will more likely bring the economic transformation we need.
“We are not simply grasping at anything that sounds promising and hoping for the best. Instead we are focusing on our economic assets and targeting businesses for which it makes economic sense to be here. If we want economic change we will have to work to achieve it and not expect others to do it for us.”
The board’s first task will be to establish an office location and recruit an executive director and small staff, noted Schoffer. The Atlantic County Improvement Authority has agreed to retain AngelouEconomics to assist in the formation of the ACEA and in recruiting an executive director.