A Message from the Managing Director…

The Empowerment Zone Initiative potentially is one of the most powerful urban/rural revitalization tools developed in the last 3 decades in America.  Although under appreciated, the application process, which entails community participation, assures that a host of community shareholders from residents’ business owners provide meaningful input into the development of a comprehensive revitalization strategy.

The excitement and anticipation surrounding the application process sensitized the community to issues not just pertaining to one’s neighborhood, but on a municipal and regional basis.  In Camden, this has resulted in a community that is knowledgeable about trends affecting the City and region.  This heightened sensitivity is a result of our Bi-State application process and can be defined as participatory. 

The Camden Empowerment Zone Corporation has succeeded on many fronts.  However, our most significant accomplishment is the creation if a purely community controlled organization whose achievements of years is unparalleled in this Region as well as the City of Camden.   Since inception, we have achieved the following tangible products.

1.    Produced the development of approximately 170 units of housing (the majority affordable ownership programs)

2.    Investment of  $1.5 million for two significant commercial  streetscape projects in the Camden business district.

3.    In collaboration with 15 EZ based organizations, CEZC assisted in securing $1.9 million in welfare-to-work assistance.

4.    Invested and leveraged in aggregate over $1,500,000. Utilized to provide summer educational and camp opportunities for 1700 children over 4 years.

5.    Established a $115 million project portfolio.

6.    Secured the real estate financing for a $8.6 million community owned supermarket.

7.    Established relationships with over 40 Community Based Organizations.

Other intangible accomplishments would include the following:

1.    Establishing direct community participation in all EZ financial and programmatic decisions.

2.    Improving community access to information.

3.    Establishing a viable conduit for private sector investment of resources into Camden.

4.    Generating positive press for the City of Camden.