\ Atlantic City: Economy - Major Industries and Commercial Activity, Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Businesses

Atlantic City: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

The convention and tourism industry rebuilt Atlantic City's economy in the late 1980s and through the 1990s. Now one of the nation's top tourist attractions, the city boasts 13 gambling casino/hotels, which attracted 33 million visitors in 2004. Coupled with its famous beaches and boardwalk, Atlantic City's superb hotel accommodations annually draw nearly 5,000 conventions, trade shows, and meetings. Since 1975, the casinos have funneled $7 billion back into the city's economy in addition to creating some 55,000 jobs. A tax on casino gross revenue provides $300 million annually for state programs for seniors and the disabled. In addition, the Atlantic City Cape Community College features a Casino Career Institute, which has trained more than 46,000 students for employment in the gaming industry.

Although much of Atlantic City's economic development centers around the casinos, the local government has been pursuing its goal to diversify the economy through the development of themed restaurants, retail shopping, night clubs, museums, theaters, minor league baseball and other recreational attractions. Non-casino industries in Atlantic City include services, retail trade, real estate development, distilling, and deep sea fishing. Many of the goods produced are by-products of the convention/tourism trade.

Items and goods produced: saltwater taffy, clothing, bottles and glassware, plastics, boats, paints, hosiery, baby carriages, reed furniture, chinaware, creamery and poultry products, fish and seafood

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Businesses

Local programs

Among the public and private agencies assisting businesses in Atlantic City are the Atlantic City Department of Planning and Development, the Casino Re-Investment Development Authority, the Atlantic County Improvement Authority, Atlantic City Housing Authority and Urban Redevelopment Agency, the Atlantic City–New Jersey Coordinating Council, and Atlantic County and its agencies. These agencies oversee casino re-investment funds, more than $100 million in city monies, and substantial luxury tax revenues.

State programs

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) offers a wide range of financial, real estate development, and technical services to encourage business development and growth in the state. The majority of its assistance is to small and mid-sized businesses. The EDA issues bonds to provide financing at favorable interest rates for business ventures, and makes low-interest loans and guarantees loans made by private investors and lenders. It also offers a full range of real estate development services to stimulate both private and public development projects. In addition, the EDA administers a business incentive program that provides grants to expanding or relocating businesses that will create new jobs in New Jersey. Loans and grants also are available to municipalities and private property owners to encourage the clean-up and redevelopment of hazardous sites around the state. The New Jersey Urban Development Corporation provides low-interest loans to developers and businesses seeking to construct facilities in urban areas, including small business incubators.

The New Jersey Small Business Development Corporation (NJSBDC) network specializes in business planning, growth strategy, management strategy, and loan packaging, along with providing help in selling goods and services to government agencies, help to entrepreneurs in commercializing new technologies, linking up companies to local manufacturers who serve as mentors, and counseling for companies regarding overseas trade.

Job training programs

The New Jersey Business Employment Incentive Program Loan Program allows companies to receive up to an 80 percent rebate for ten years for the additional state income tax generated by creating new jobs. The state's business Relocation Assistance Grant Program provides relocation grants to businesses that create a minimum of 25 new full time jobs in the state.

Development Projects

The $268 million Atlantic City Convention Center is the cornerstone of a $5.6 billion renaissance that has transformed Atlantic City into a major visitor and meeting destination. Contributing to the popularity of the area is the Boardwalk Hall, originally built in 1929 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This carefully renovated Atlantic City Convention Center has been fully refurbished to blend the ambience of Atlantic City's original heyday with the amenities and accommodations that visitors expect in the twenty-first century. In 2003

Billboard magazine named Boardwalk Hall, renovated in 2001, as the top-grossing midsize arena in the United States.

The $4 million Atlantic City Visitor Welcome Center, located on the Expressway, services tourists as they approach town by car. Located next to Sandcastle Stadium in Chelsea Heights is the ice skating and hockey rink, Flyers Skate Zone.

In late 2004, Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa announced a $347 million expansion that would include a 45-story hotel tower, complementing previously revealed plans for a $200 million investment in expanded casino, restaurant, and shopping space. This will expand Borgata's guest rooms from 2,000 to 2,500 and add 100 suites and 200 luxury condominiums to the complex.

Economic Development Information: Casino Re-Investment Development Authority, 1014 Atlantic Ave., Atlantic City, NJ 08401; telephone (609)347-0500. Atlantic City Department of Planning and Development, City Hall, Suite 604, 1301 Bacharach Blvd., Atlantic City, NJ 08401; telephone (609)347-5404. New Jersey Commerce, Economic Growth & Tourism Commission, 20 W. State St., PO Box 839, Trenton, NY 08625; telephone (609)777-0885

Commercial Shipping

Freight shipped via air arrives at Philadelphia International Airport, Atlantic City International Airport in Pomona, and at Bader Field (Atlantic City Municipal Airport) near downtown. The closest major container shipping ports are in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. Atlantic City is adjacent to the Garden State Parkway and is serviced by the Atlantic City Expressway.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Between 1975, the dawn of the era of legalized gambling in Atlantic City, and 2001, the combined wages of hotel workers in Atlantic City rose from $15 million to $1.1 billion.

The service sector continues to be Atlantic City's largest employer.

Plans are well underway to make the city a world-class resort through airport modernization and expansion and revitalization of the casino industry, and to pursue economic diversity through non-casino hotels, a theme park, beach and boardwalk enhancements, a new convention center, and a revitalized central business district. State-mandated casino reinvestments are earmarked for housing construction and economic development.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Atlantic City labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 149,500

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 6,600

manufacturing: 4,500

trade, transportation, and utilities: 21,900

information: 1,100

financial activities: 4,400

professional and business services: 9,800

educational and health services: 17,200

leisure and hospitality: 57,400

other services: 4,100

government: 22,600

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $15.67 (2004 statewide average)

Unemployment rate: 6.6% (February 2005)

Atlantic City: Economy

Largest employers Number of employees
Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort (no employee figures available)
Bally's Atlantic City
Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa
Harrah's Atlantic City
Resorts Atlantic City
Sands Casino Hotel
Showboat Casino Hotel
Tropicana Casino & Resort
Trump Marina Casino Resort
Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino
Trump's Taj Mahal Casino Resort

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Atlantic City area.

2004 ACCRA Average House Price: Not reported

2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Not reported

State income tax rate: 1.4% for total income of $1 to $20,000; 1.75% for total income of $20,001 to $35,000; 3.5% for total income of $35,001 to $40,000; 5.525% for total income of $40,001 to $75,000; 6.37% for total income of $75,001 to $500,000; 8.97% for total income of $500,001 and up (2004).

State sales tax rate: 6%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: None (3% alcoholic beverage tax and 9% lodging and related services tax)

Property tax rate (effective): $2.96 per $100 of assessed value (2004)

Economic Information: Atlantic City Department of Planning & Development, City Hall, Atlantic City, NJ 08401; telephone (609)347-5404