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Camden’s Northern Neighbor Could Be Guide For Schools

(credit: John Ostapkovich)

(credit: John Ostapkovich)

John Ostapkovich John Ostapkovich
John Ostapkovich brings humor and wit, and a wealth of experience...
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By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The State of New Jersey is taking over public education in Camden, a city with a long and all-to-public list of troubles (see related story).  But there may be a way back, if they look north.

Newark is hardly out of the woods, but it is doing much better, according Don Katz, CEO of Audible.com, the audio book folks. It moved its headquarters from the suburbs to central Newark in 2007, and Katz has just been given an award marking that contribution.

He says, while Camden has a lesser range of attractions than Newark, it might be able to attract today’s true job creators.

“What’s happening is that young, technical people — engineers largely, and artists — which can be literally painters, singers, whatever, become the new urban entrepreneurs in that they tend to get together and start — without much capital whatsoever — app companies, and hip bars and ‘skinny jeans’ jobs, which bring these communities to life and create tremendous numbers of jobs.”

Katz says these firms need support other than tax breaks.

“They don’t care about tax breaks. They don’t make profits; they put their money back into top-line growth, but what they do need is really sophisticated legal services, really sophisticated financial services, subsidized housing for their workers.  But it’s really a different list than what people in Washington and the state legislatures think they should be doing to help cities come back.”

Katz says Newark struggles in New York’s shadow, much as Camden has a big neighbor too.

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