Recovering Economy and Business In Camden, New Jersey

Camden's Benjamin Franklin Bridge

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge is seen in the opening credits of the TV series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
The Benjamin Franklin Bridge is seen in the opening credits of the TV series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." | Source

What Is Happening In Camden, the Final Home of Walt Whitman?

Several economic and business organizations found that Camden NJ placed as the poorest town in the United States in 2012, having the lowest annual average household income and the greatest number of individuals below the US Federal Poverty Line. By 2014 - 2015, this was not longer true.

This is all interesting, becuase Camden is adjacent to Philadelphia and near to Bridgeport CT, which is the Third Richest Metro Area of the USA.

The county seat of Camden County NJ, Camden is interesting to examine as one of Governor Chris Chritie's issues to address. What is happening in Camden and what can businesses ans government do to help?

Camden Area

A markerCamden NJ -
Camden, NJ, USA
[get directions]

The Walt Whitman House in Camden, NJ is the shorter, gray frame house.
The Walt Whitman House in Camden, NJ is the shorter, gray frame house. | Source

Historic Attraction: Walt Whitman House

Near the Waterfront on the Delaware River in Camden, poet Walt Whitman's last home stands at the address listed below and is a US National Historic Landmark. A Visitor's Center serves the house to the right in the photo above.

The poet's original letters, possessions, deathbed, and the death notice nailed to his front door are all there in display in his last house. Visitors can also see rare 19th century photographs, including daguerreotypes.

Plans for rebuilding Camden out of its poverty in which 50% of its children live below the US Federal Poverty Line will make a better surrounding for Whitman's final home.


Walt Whitman House in Camden
328 Mickle Boulevard
Camden, New Jersey 08103

Camden, New Jersey baseball field.
Camden, New Jersey baseball field. | Source

Census2010 Facts For Camden

  • Median Household income: $27,027
  • Ethnicity: African American (53.3%), Hispanic (38.8%), Other (22.8%)
  • Age: 0-19 years (34.8%); 20-64 (57.6%); 65 and over (7.5%)
  • Unemployment Rate: 19.6%
  • High School Graduation Rate: 44%
  • College Graduation Rate: 5.1%

According to Sperlin's Best Places:

  • The median home cost in Camden is $51,100.
  • Home appreciation in 2012 was -3.31 percent.

Although many jobs are open in Camden and Philadelphia, most of them require higher education that many Camden residents to not possess. Education and Crime Reduction programs must step up their efforts.

Camden Shoreline behind the ball field.
Camden Shoreline behind the ball field. | Source

New Jersey Taxes

On February 26, 2013 in an announcement of the last budget of his gubernatorial term, Governor Chris Christy announced $2.3 billion in tax incentive breaks to businesses in his state.

As in many states, these tax incentives are used to encourage current businesses to expand and hire more employees, but also to draw new businesses into the state. Businesses want to operate in states and counties in which they can make the largest profits, and taxes cut into the bottom line more than some other costs.

At the same time, Campbells, the famous soup company, accepted a large amount in tax cuts in 2011 and then proceeded to lay off many workers.his was not a popular move.

Tax incentives are presented to corporations in order to allow them to hire more workers, not to lay off current workers. However, more than one company across the nation has laid off workers in the wake of increased tax savings or increased profits. This seems counterproductive and can lead to poor cities like Camden.

Cramer Hill

show route and directions
A markerCramer Hill, Camden NJ -
Cramer Hill, Camden, NJ 08105, USA
[get directions]

B markerCAMPBELL -
1 Campbell Place, Camden, NJ 08103, USA
[get directions]

Plans For Improvement via McDonald's

The Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center

Joan Kroc left much of the Kroc Fortune that was made through McDonald's hamburgers and real estate deals to the public good, including National Public Radio. Another gift was made to build this community center in Camden.

The Kroc Center of the Salvation Army, when complete, will have a 120,000-square foot facility on 24 acres within a former landfill in Cramer Hill. It will maintain programs to improve the Camden area in economics, education, health, recreation, and spiritual needs.

Meant for families and individuals, the Kroc Center can impact hundreds of people for good. Campbell (soup) company made a half-million dollar contribution to the community kitchen, the first operating section, in order to help supply food to children that do not have enough to eat.

The gigantic Kroc Center in Dayton, Ohio helped take that city from one of the poorest in America to one of the most successful, helping families as the Aerospace Industry grew to provide jobs around them. It is located in Dayton, just west of Wright Patterson Air Force Base and the National Air Force Museum. The Kroc Center benefits from volunteer services donated by those agencies. Kroc Centers are located in an additional half dozen cities in the Eastern USA and several in the West, including Hawaii.

Camden's Kroc Center at the Delaware River

A markerKroc Center, Camden NJ -
Kroc Center#, Camden, NJ 08105, USA
[get directions]

Kroc Center, Dayton OH

A marker1000 N. Keowee Dayton, OH 45404 -
1000 North Keowee Street, Dayton, OH 45404, USA
[get directions]

Dayton was once a Worst Place to Find Work in the USA. It came off the list in the late 2000s with numerous improvements and aerospace-related jobs.

Improvement Zones In Camden

Empowerment Zone

As with most US Empowerment Zones, Camden's concentrates on buidling new housing to replace abandoned and condemed buildings. Following that, the organization works to increase culture and the arts in the area, usually a Downtown region of a city that needs development. New businesses, along with Job Creation and Human Services are high priorities as well.

Urban Enterprise Zone

The Camden UEZ was mapped in 1984 and to 1st QTR 2013, 150 businesses have registered in the associated program to gain its tax incentives and other help. While this number averages only 5 businesses yearly, it has created 339 new jobs and an investment of $584,504.00 in private money. By comparison, Campbell's reports that it donates $1 million annually to local charities.

  • Brian Williams of NBC News announced in a segment highlighting Camden in early March 2013 that Police Chief Thompson was happy to know that Camden Police Department would be joined to the Camden County Police, offering an additional 200 police officers to help patrol the city. In a patrol ride through the worst parts of town, Williams watched as the Chief talked a young man out of purchasing heroin outside a drug house. Chief Thompson believes there is hope for Camden and a handful of residents interviewed feel the same way in early 2013.

Major Attractions

  • Camden Waterfront - Includes the Adventure Aquarium with several areas filling its 200,000 square feet and a 4D Theater with extra action. Be sure to visit the Jules Verne Deep Sea area. The Walt Whitman Home is located within two blocks of the Waterfront. Fountain Park is also nearby, with plenty of seating.
  • Camden County Historical Society
  • Camden Children's Garden
  • Camden River Sharks Baseball
  • Cherry Hill Mall
  • Battleship New Jersey Naval Museum & Veteran's Memorial - also see http://www.camdenshipmuseum.org/
  • Petty's Island - Pirate hideaway and tugboat graveyard.
  • Rutgers Camden Center for The Arts
  • South Jersey Performing Arts Center
  • Susquehanna Center
  • Walt Whitman House - see the paragraph at beginning of this article.

Good Job Listings in Camden NJ

Despite the poverty of the families in Camden, within 10 miles of City Center there were 48,900+ job listings in March 2013 and over 135,000 vacancies by Labor Day 2014. By the end of August 2015, job listings for the metro area stood at approximately 161,000 openings.

The highest demand jobs In Camden and nearby Philadelphia are:

  1. Truck Drivers with CDL license
  2. Housekeepers and Child Care in private homes and organizations
  3. Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)
  4. Physical and Occupational Therapists
  5. Engineers - IT, Electrical, Mechanical
  6. Oil and Gas Jobs
  7. Business Analysts
  8. Supermarket Jobs, all levels
  9. Sales Representatives
  10. Pharmacy Technicians
  11. Retail Salespeople
  12. Registered Nurses

Companies posting the most job listings: Recruit Gaap, Research Recruiting Association, University of Pennsylvania, Bayada Home Health Care, Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia, and Deloitte.

show route and directions
A markerCamden NJ -
Camden, NJ, USA
[get directions]

B markerBaltimore MD -
Baltimore, MD, USA
[get directions]

C markerPhiladelphia -
Philadelphia, PA, USA
[get directions]

© 2013 Patty Inglish

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Comments 9 comments

Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

Hi Patty. Great hub! At first glance, it appears to me that although almost 45% of the population of Camden are high school graduates, only 5.1 are college graduates. I won't comment on ethnicity, but with over half the population between the ages of 20 and 64, the unemployment rate of 19.6% is frightening.

Although Camden is within 10 miles of Philadelphia, there are no job opportunities listed for high school graduates only. They all seem to require specialized training and additional education.

I also understand that Camden is one of the most significant crime areas in the U.S. Not to sound too ignorant, but isn't this an extremely high barrier to climb for the younger, work aged people in Camden.

I appreciate what you say Governor Christie is doing, offering tax breaks to companies so they will employ more people, but it would appear that none of the people in Camden (or a very small number) would be qualified for other than menial jobs.

If the Kroc center in Dayton is a good example, perhaps the Kroc center in Camden will do as much good. But, the crime problem is not addressed. And, Campbell's half million contribution to the Kroc center kitchen - to help feed children - is worthwhile, of course, but probably not enough to make a difference in the lives of Camden residents with almost 35% of Camden residents below 19 years of age.

JOBS, JOBS, JOBS for Camden is the answer (as it is everywhere else, of course). But a specific and powerful clean-up of the crime in Camden is absolutely necessary before the area can get out of poverty.

Finally, the cost of housing is so low it suggests no buyers are interested in moving to Camden. Is there anything in this area that might be addressed?

I totally agree with your comments: "Education and Crime Reduction programs must step up their efforts."

Thanks for the thinking challenge. You always write such excellent hubs!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

The Kroc Center in Camden will have extensive homework help and tutoring to push high school students to graduate, along with computer literacy and probably some computer Certification courses.

In Columbus, Ohio such programs have worked well - we are advertised as the Number One Tech City in USA and a lot of other "Bests", but until recently, one large section of town had only a 30% high school graduation rate. We changed and so did Bridgeport CT, and so can Camden.

My concern is that so few businesses join the incentive programs and/or come into Camden; and Campbell's accepted the tax incentives, but then CUT almost 140 jobs from the city. No wonder there is crime. I'll look up range of housing costs in a minute.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

There are quite a few nicer homes available, but the overall city crime rate is high and needs to be reduced. The same thing happened in Springfield, Ohio from 1980s - 2000; but then the new large hospital opened downtown and the whole city changed for the good.

On Zillow, March 4, 2013:

Camden has 331 single-family homes for sale.

Price Range: $5,000 (really old and needs torn down) to $1,500,000. Several vacant lots, about 8, range from $5K - $7K as well.

Homes between $100,000 to $300,000 = 26.

Homes between $80,000 - $99,999 = 46.

Homes between $60,000 - $79,999 = 79.

Camden has plans for tearing down condemned properties and replacing them with multi-use building complexes. That worked in Columbus, too.


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

Thank you for your detailed reply to my questions. I get the situation with Campbell - this sort of thing should be penalized in later years. Hopefully the Kroc center's programs will enable Camden young people to graduate college and certification courses soon enough to make a real difference.

Brava, Patty. I do hope that Camden can improve just as Columbus and Bridgeport did. Your concern about so few businesses joining the incentive program - could that be premature? Surely Christie will want to make a HUGE and positive difference in many areas of the state.

You can be sure, because of this hub I will be watching the news. thanks so much.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Stimulating people to watch the news about Camden and all of NJ is a good start in helping, because someone with resources and ideas to help might see it.

The tax incentive program has been alive since 1984 (30 years) without much action, so something more needs to be done there. I forget which city, but one metro area in the US provided incentives in actual dollars for workers to move into their city and purchase homes. There must be something witty that Camden officials can do!


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

It is nice to hear good news about Camden. I lived in the greater Philadelphia area and Camden was often referred to as "the armpit of the world." It was incomprehensible to me that every October the city of Camden needed to enforce a strict curfew because people annually set fires to houses for the entire week preceding Halloween. The Aquarium was a BIG boost in change for the better.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

A week of Halloween housefires!! Now that is something I did not know. Digging Camden out of that pit is a long process, but if Bridgeport can do it and Dayton can do it, then I feel that Camden has a chance.

Of course, like the case of Detroit, some folks seem to want Camden to fail completely. Maybe my filmmaker friend in Motown can use Camden as well and give itan extra boost.

Thanks a million for your input, Maren Morgan M-T.


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

Patty, my pleasure. A film that could somehow promote local pride would be fantastic -- then Philly and Camden could be 2 Good Twin Cities instead of the right side of the tracks (or, in this case, the Delaware River) and the wrong side. The many bridges between the two are in fine shape. Some great, trendy, SAFE restaurants and clubs could draw Pennsylvanians over.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Good ideas! I saw that the new "Oz, The Great and Powerful" was filmed in Michigan - withouthn incentives - so maybe in future Michigan filmmakers can help.

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