Taking a "Residents-First" Approach to Revitalize Camden, NJ
Steve Adubato goes on-location to Camden, New Jersey to talk to Kris Kolluri, CEO, Cooper's Ferry Partnership, about economic and infrastructure development in the city and their "residents-first" approach to revitalizing Camden.
"Hi, I'm Steve Adubato. We're, in fact, coming to you for a State of Affairs special segment in the northern section of Camden. We're actually coming to you from the Camden Camden Lutheran Housing Operation. We're pleased to be joined by our good friend, Kris Kolluri, CEO, Cooper's Ferry Partnership. Good to see you Kris. Good to see you Steve. You know the Camden community very well. What's going on today that is different from just five years ago? Three things. One, the neighborhoods in Camden have never been more safe than they have been today. At least going back 50 years. Number two, the K-12 education system is more stable than it's been in recent memory. Just to give you two quick examples, the graduation rate today is 69 percent. In 2012, it was 49 percent. So what you're... and a third thing is, the number of companies that are moving in here are more than there have ever been, and that is primarily because of the tax credit program, but equally important, there is a belief among residents and business leaders that this city is at an inflection point. A good inflection point. You know, to be clear, and to clarify things, Cooper's Ferry Partnership that Kris will explain, is involved in a lot of development. Our team's gonna go out and shoot some footage of some of those projects. What is the initiative? How long has it been around? And what are gonna see? Cooper's Ferry Partnership is a private, non-profit. We're a community development and economic development non-profit that's been around for 34 years. We have been the primary non-profit, along with others, that work with foundations, governments, and corporations, to make sure things like park projects are built, roads projects are built, and to make sure that we provide a platform for companies to move into Camden. Okay, so how hot is...? Okay, you got an economic development thing going on. A lot of activity. You're gonna see that footage. But we're in the northern section of Camden. As we walked onto the street, there's a jackhammer working. We tried to get him to stop. But they said, "No, we got... we have things to do. This is Camden. We're trying to build the community." This is a particularly challenging area, economically disadvantaged. We're actually doing an initiative with our friend, Pino Rodriguez, who heads up the initiative, the Block Supporter Initiative, not as big as yours as a non-profit, but they're making a difference block by block? But that's a story about Camden. This isn't about one individual, or one organization, that is helping the city move forward. It is a collective effort. The bottom line for people on the ground is, this city and the residents of this city, like Pino Rodriguez..."