Focused on Camden: Dana Redd describes her hopes for the city, now and in the future
Dana Redd stays busy.
As CEO of the Rowan University / Rutgers-Camden Board of Trustees, she helps the group partner with public and private institutions to develop programs and projects that assist the board in its mission of creating opportunity. education, economic development and civic engagement.
A prime example is the $ 70 million Joint Health Sciences Center in Camden, which opened in 2019, creating a more vibrant and sustainable community and health sciences corridor.
Redd and his group have worked with two higher education institutions (Rutgers University-Camden and Camden County College) and four healthcare organizations (Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, Cooper University Health Care, MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper and Coriell Institute for Medical Research) to help further strengthen the role of DHS and medicines in the region.
âBy leveraging the power of these institutions, the center is on its way to becoming the hub of research and innovation in South Jersey,â she said upon opening. âThis campus will be the beating heart of Camden’s eds & meds corridor, injecting opportunity, growth and innovation throughout the region.
Redd, who recently served on the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Committee, is also a board member of the Coriell Institute and the Camden Community Partnership, where she serves as chair of the board.
To tie it all together, of course, Camden, where Redd served as mayor from 2010 to 2018, helped the city become a national model of urban recovery in the country.
Redd made public safety a priority with the creation of the Metro Division of the Camden County Police Department and his commitment to community policing. It also mobilized and attracted $ 2.5 billion in public-private investment to spur economic growth and job creation, bringing dozens of new businesses to the city. And she led a comprehensive state intervention in the Camden City School District to improve educational outcomes for urban youth.
Redd is a strong supporter of current Camden Mayor Vic Carstarphen, who she believes will continue the city’s growth and renewal.
âI know he will focus on ensuring that our financial fundamentals remain strong,â she said. âWe need to make sure that our prudent approach to financial planning continues. “
ROI-NJ recently sat down with Redd to talk about all things Camden – what works and what still needs to be done.
Here’s a look at the conversation, which has been edited for more space and clarity.
KING-NJ: By the end of your term as mayor, the City of Camden had achieved a Standard & Poor’s credit rating of BBB +, the first in over 15 years. Last December, S&P upgraded the city’s bond rating from BBB + to A-, the highest the city had received in 40 years.
S&P officials have said the rating change is proof that the city is fiscally stable and rising, which is very important to you and other Camden stakeholders. What else do you see as a main goal to keep the city going?
Dana Redd: We need to focus on rebuilding our housing stock in Camden. Fostering homeownership for Camden residents will help stabilize neighborhoods and rebuild our property tax base. In 2022 and beyond, ensuring a well-thought-out housing strategy is implemented will be critical to Camden’s long-term stability and growth.
Name an important person in New Jersey, dead or alive, true or false, famous or infamous, well known or unknown.
Bishop Michael Doyle of the Church of the Sacred Heart in Camden. Monsignor Doyle is emblematic and holds a special place in my heart. In 1976, Monsignor Doyle was there to support my family in the midst of a tragedy with a surge of love, food and Christmas gifts for my brother Kevin and me. He was the first person I told I was running for mayor.
What’s your favorite dish or meal in New Jersey?
My favorite meal is breakfast! eggs benedict on smoked salmon and bacon.
KING : Housing is good, but it can only follow job creation. Private employment must rebound and grow. Talk about Camden Works, an initiative to bridge employment opportunities with Camden residents by streamlining the connection between employers and residents.
DR: Camden Works is a privately funded initiative that Camden Community Partnership, along with five other nonprofits, launched in 2019. Since its inception, and even in the midst of a pandemic, we have placed or supported the placement of over 500 residents in jobs.
Before the pandemic, Camden’s unemployment rate was 7.8%, a 30-year low. At the height of the pandemic, the unemployment rate rose to 21%, and today it is down to 11.8%. We have a long way to go, but programs like Camden Works are a critical part of our strategy to ensure our residents have access to employment opportunities.
KING : While things are improving in Camden, it’s not always so great looking down. The city still has crumbling roads and underground infrastructure in many neighborhoods. One of the city’s most complained about problems for years is the state of its roads and underground infrastructure. It’s changing. The city’s public works department filled nearly 6,000 potholes this year alone. But it’s still a problem. What other types of infrastructure works are planned for neighborhoods and communities?
DR: Residents have always said improving the condition of our roads is their top priority. Thanks to the leadership shown by our Congressman Donald Norcross and our Senators, we now have the opportunity to make a one-time investment in a generation to improve our roads and underground utilities.
Camden Community Partnership, working with the county, has developed an Infrastructure Dashboard, which identifies the worst to best roads in Camden. This dashboard will help us prioritize investments. In the meantime, the mayor and city council have already started investing money to improve the city’s worst roads.
KING : More housing, more jobs, better roads. Let’s move on to another key aspect of quality of life. Camden’s parks have been a big boost to residents and make the city cleaner and greener, with many of them being renovated or newly created.
Cramer Hill Waterfront Park recently opened on a site that had been a landfill and illegal dumping area. Paid for with $ 47 million in public funds, the site’s rehabilitation was long overdue as a place where Camdenites could play, walk or just relax – or even kayak. What other types of green space projects are planned to continue Camden’s Cleaner, Greener initiative?
DR: Camden Community Partnership is the program manager for the city’s largest portfolio of parks projects. Thanks to investments from the county, state and private funders, we are now embarking on the most ambitious park improvement plan ever in the city.
When all projects are completed, Camden residents will have the opportunity to enjoy more than $ 100 million in improved open space in every neighborhood across the city. It is environmental and social equity in action.