Atlantic City, which was once a thriving casino resort, is now suffering great losses following a catastrophic halt in the gambling industry in the area. Statistics (1) from 2015 show: an increase in the poverty and unemployment rate; a decline in house prices; direct job losses of 6,700 in 2014 alone due to casino closings and total casino gaming winnings down 43% from 2004 to 2014. The reason the county endured such drastic hardships was because all the region’s efforts in relation to economic development were poured into one industry: tourism. Of course it prospered for a time and the county reaped the rewards in abundance. Once the industry failed to provide profitable revenues, however, it had no other significant sources of income to rely on and fell into steep economic decline.
Another example of this type of economic development failure can be drawn from Endicott, Binghamton, New York. The town, with a population of 13,000, was once IBM’s tech hub which at one point employed 11,000 persons (2). Endicott, much like Atlantic City, relied on this single source for jobs and general economic prosperity of the area. When the company largely ‘moved out’ of the town and left little over 700 employees, however, similar adverse effects to the economy as those seen in Atlantic City were observed.
It is evident the solution to the problem involves diversifying the industry. In 2015, Atlantic County commissioned Angeloueconomics to develop an economic development plan for the county in an attempt to begin to revitalize the region. The Atlantic County Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan published in September 2015 states ‘Drive Industry Diversification’ as one of the main goals for the county. It aims to do this by boosting a number of industries such as Avionics and Life Sciences, among others. Endicott is following an analogous path. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative for Endicott published in May 2016 states the town has ‘a plan to address … the diversification of industry in the region’.
For this change in industry to take place, both Atlantic County and Endicott must make the regions appealing to firms. Levy (4), the author of Contemporary Urban Planning, states a number of ways communities can attract businesses for example through subsidisation and making sites and buildings available. Furthermore, it is up to the communities to ensure diversification is fostered. One way they can do this is by attracting entrepreneurs and small companies through incentives such as incubator buildings.
- 2015. Atlantic County Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan. Available: http://www.atlanticcountyimprovementauthority.org/pdf/Atlantic-County-SR-Final-092115.pdf
- Moore, Heidi. 2014. IBM fires small-town workers for Wall Street numbers. That’s the good part. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/02/ibm-fires-small-town-workers-for-wall-street-numbers
- Levy, John M. 2014. 10th Edition. Contemporary Urban Planning. Pages 271 – 274.