In so much of my writing I have concluded that there are things that need to be considered for legislation at the state level for New Jersey. Well, as I’ve read more and spoken with community members, I have determined that I need to create a brand new subject area for this website, which will be strategically titled, “Proposed Camden City Legislation”. I strongly believe that there are several things that Camden and its people need, but many of these things cannot become reality without the proper legislation.
So, here is NJ Poverty Reality’s first proposed bill for Camden City. I hope that this will spark an interest among residents, I hope a neighborhood dialogue is created, and I hope that the powers-at-be copy my ideas. It’s not plagiarism, it’s reconnecting City Hall to the community.
In Camden, the most recent news concerning the progress of the Economic Opportunity Act provided the community with the knowledge that the Volunteers of America will be moving from Collingswood to Camden. The purpose for doing so, I’d say is unknown, other than moving workers from one town to another. With a total award of $6.3 Million, this operation comes with the price tag of more than $96,000 per job, moving a whopping 5 miles down the road.
As many policy experts and academics have publically stated, this method of “rebirthing Camden” is not going to come close to doing anything related to lifting the city above the poverty threshold. We know that the residents of the city need, and want, jobs. THEY WANT TO WORK!
However, the smoke and mirrors strategy that is regularly used in order to make it seem as though one has created “all of these good paying jobs”, right before election season I might add, isn’t actually creating anything. OK, perhaps the creation of new building structures counts towards creating something. At best, though, this strategy deserves an award for “Best at Real Estate Relocation”, not for job creation.
So, since it annually costs more than $300 Million a year in special legislative aid in order to operate Camden City’s municipal government and public schools due to a supremely deflated tax base, how about we work towards empowering the existing residents to fill the gap?
Why would we ever think that relocating outside jobs to Camden City would ever fill that gap? The people who live in Camden are still left largely unemployed under the current plan.
Since the unemployment rate remains high, not only are New Jersey tax payers paying for the special legislative aid, but now they’re additionally paying for the projects of the EOA, with no real end in sight for the annual legislative bailout.
What if the course of action was not to relocate several already-profiting businesses from one town to another?
What if we took half of the $630 Million that have already been pledged to relocating businesses to Camden via the EOA, and directed these funds to promoting a small business economy in Camden?
The US Small Business Administration estimates that it costs an average of $30,000 to start a small business. So, by using some complicated and fantastical mathematical algorithms, if we took half of what has already been pledged through the EOA, a total of $315 Million, legislators could have provided the funds for 10,500 small businesses to have been created in Camden City.
I wanted to use the example of half of $630 Million in order to put the ridiculousness of the EOA into context. $630 million tax dollars for an initiative that provides no real visible decrease to Camden’s unemployment rate.
A small business investment of even just $10 Million (~333 small businesses) would be a better benefit to Camden residents than all of the $630 Million spent on entities such as the Philadelphia 76ers.
Propose this kind of legislation next time: A 5 year pilot program of $10 Million that provides business education for residents, and provides all of the knowledge needed in order to create a business in Camden City. In other words, get all of the building codes in order. Stop having contradicting codes between the fire department and the city inspector.
Teach residents how to manage a small business. Give them the tools they need to make their city great.
Cover their initial start up costs.
I don’t think this would be a difficult task to accomplish. Most of the resources for this initiative already exist in Camden. I’m sure that the prestige behind Rutgers University-Camden’s School of Business would be willing to partner in this mission, as well as the dedicated members of LAEDA.
In my opinion, it’s just a matter of law makers reconnecting with the community, and understanding what will actually lift the city out of poverty.
Let’s start promoting our communities again. Let’s start reducing the gap in the tax base. Let’s start engaging with the people who make decisions for us, and let’s start engaging with the people who we make decisions for.