Survey highlights Camden’s economic progress

Survey highlights Camden’s economic progress

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read January 2020 — What once was the poorest city in the nation is now showing significant advances as a result of its renaissance efforts. Camden City is showing positive trends in key economic areas, according to a recent survey from the U.S. Census Bureau,  using data derived from the American Community Survey (ACS).   


The survey data showed significant improvements in areas such as poverty, educational attainment, employment and unemployment. 

“Change doesn’t happen overnight, but in findings like these we are seeing the very real snowballing effect of progressive policies put into place to better the lives of residents in the City,” said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr in a press release.

The surge in educational attainment among 18-24-year olds is one of the significant trends Camden has seen during the last decade. The most recent estimate shows the population achieving high school or higher levels of education is now at 83.3 percent. From 2006 to 2010, approximately 68 percent of young adults in the city had graduated high school, earned their G.E.D., attended some college, or received an associate’s, bachelor’s or advanced degree. 

“Ensuring all of our students and families are attaining a quality education and gaining access to advanced educational opportunities is our objective. This report underscores the progress being made in the classroom and throughout our district,” Superintendent Katrina McCombs said in a press release.

The survey also showed that the number of residents employed has increased by more than 2,500 and the number of unemployed residents dropped from over 7,700 to less than 3,900.  According to city data, the unemployment rate over the five years ending in 2018 was 12.6%, which represents a big decline from the 24.4 percent reported from 2009 to 2013.   

Camden’s “eds and meds” sector, which employs almost 40% of the Camden workforce, has also been key to the city’s revitalization. Over $1 billion has been invested in the “eds and meds” sector, with an additional $175 million planned. Camden is home to five eds and meds institutions, leading research and innovative efforts throughout the region and the national and international community. 

To support local businesses and residents, workforce initiatives like private initiative Camden Works, launched in 2019, have been forged to ensure Camden continues its growth path. The employment training and placement program is designed to leverage resources from local entities to provide training, education and placement.

“Unparalleled collaboration and a holistic approach to revitalization is resulting in real progress in Camden,” said Camden Mayor Francisco Moran in a press release. “The data indicates that Camden is making substantial gains as it relates to reducing poverty, improving academic outcomes and increasing employment prospects. This kind of sustained progress has not been witnessed in decades.  These are all positive signs for our residents and indicators that the quality of life continues to improve.” 

The ACS produces estimates of selected population characteristics for one- and five-year periods. Five-year estimates include data aggregated over a 60-month period and attempt to show the characteristics of the city over that entire stretch.  

To learn more, visit: 


Spotlight On: Donald Borden, President, Camden County College

Spotlight On: Donald Borden, President, Camden County College

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read December 2019 — Beyond typical degree programs, South New Jersey’s Camden County College is challenged to keep up with demand for certifying students like automobile technicians and machinists. The school is attracting increased involvement from local business and the industrial community to tailor its courses to the market’s demands. The Invest: team recently spoke with Camden County College President Donald Borden, who highlighted the areas of growth for the college and the region’s workforce.

Which of the college’s programs are experiencing more demand?


We have the most certification programs in southern New Jersey. In terms of what is in demand, we can’t keep our machinists on the floor. Companies come to hire them as soon as they become proficient. Students trained in robotics, automobile tech and optometry all find work after graduating. We offer some of those programs that are not traditionally seen as higher ed, but they have been in very high demand. We also continue to graduate students in the areas of business and education, as well as criminal justice, to name a few. The important factor is to have the connections that provide students with opportunities, such as the police academy, which we oversee here in Camden County.


As the college’s 2017-2020 strategic plan winds down, what factors will be central to the next plan?


We are already working on our next strategic plan. What is encouraging is that much of the focus in our town halls or when talking to our stakeholders is making sure our strategic plan includes partnering with business and industry. We have really increased the number of businesses and industries on our advisory boards, and my view is that we have to be servants to those individuals. It used to be that higher education was a “take it or leave it” proposition, but now we need to understand what the business community needs from our graduates. They have an opportunity to weigh in on our curricula and program development. As a result, when our graduates enter the local business community it helps them, it helps the business community and industry, and it helps the community in general.

What impact is technology having on education?


It is not just instructional. When you talk about automobile techs, I don’t think they can be called mechanics anymore. They are technicians who are very involved in the computer technology business. I think that is true in almost any area. How does that affect us? Instructionally, we need to be meeting the needs of those businesses and industries, which is where the advisory boards and partnerships come in.  We need to know what kind of equipment our students need to be trained on. That is true of both certification programs and degree programs.


In addition, sometimes we need to rely on those partners to help us with equipment, because of financial issues. But even beyond that, our students live in that world on a day-to-day basis, so we try to help them. More students are simply living their education through technology. We are also expanding our online programs, which is an area of focus as we work to have more degree options available online.


What main challenges is the college and the education sector in South Jersey dealing with?


One of the main challenges for all of us is fewer traditional students graduating from high school. That population is diminishing and that makes it more competitive for all the institutions that serve those students. 


Another challenge that we face, and which is very typical in public institutions, is state and federal funding. Our county has been extremely generous. Most recently, the community college opportunity grant has had an influence on how we do business. It provides every student making $65,000 or less in combined yearly family income with free tuition at local community colleges.


To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Camden County College: 

Public and Private Collaboration Key to Camden’s Eds and Meds Corridor

Public and Private Collaboration Key to Camden’s Eds and Meds Corridor

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read December 2019 — The life sciences industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in New Jersey, with the largest concentration of scientists and engineers per square mile in the world. The southern New Jersey region is no exception, with Camden’s “eds and meds” corridor boasting numerous healthcare, educational and research institutions.

The city’s eds and meds corridor has been experiencing steady growth over the last few years, thanks to the commitment of anchor institutions and the city’s leadership. According to Cooper’s Ferry Partnership statistics, the corridor employs almost 40% of the Camden workforce and over $1 billion has been invested in the “eds and meds” sector, with an additional $175 million planned. 

Created in 2012 by the New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act, the Rowan University / Rutgers – Camden Board of Governors has been a catalyst in the corridor’s extension and economic development. In October, the board reached a milestone with the opening of the new Joint Health and Sciences Center, which provides lab and training spaces for Rowan University, Rutgers-Camden and Camden County College. 

“By leveraging the power of these institutions, the Center is poised to become the research and innovation hub of South Jersey. This campus will be the beating heart of Camden’s eds and meds corridor, injecting opportunity, growth, and innovation throughout the entire region,” said  Joint Board CEO Dana Redd in a press release. 

The center houses research laboratory spaces for both Rowan and Rutgers-Camden, simulation rooms for medical students at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, instructional space and additional simulation labs for Camden County College, and office space for the Joint Board, according to the press release. The center will help expand the city’s transformation into a hub for medical research and innovation and attract top talent into the region. 

Camden’s “eds and meds” corridor growth is also due to the numerous partnerships between healthcare and education organizations in the area. These community collaborations and initiatives have helped combat social determinants and support local residents. For example, Camden residents now have expanded access to care as a result of efforts by institutions such as Cooper University Health Care, Virtua Health System, CAMcare Health Corporation and Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.  

The Coriell Institute for Medical Research, an independent, nonprofit biomedical research center, has been a leader in Camden’s health sciences sector. The institute hosts one of the world’s leading biobanks, distributing biological samples and offering research and biobanking services to scientists in 85 countries around the globe. By conducting groundbreaking research in biobanking, personalized medicine and stem cell biology, the Coriell Institute has been and continues to be a main driver of the corridor’s growth.

Another example is the MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, which has also significantly contributed to Camden’s eds and meds corridor since its opening in 2013. The center not only brought a new option for cancer patients across the region, but its innovative clinical trials and research has helped Camden’s reputation as a hub for groundbreaking healthcare research and education.


To learn more, visit:

Cooper’s Ferry Partnership:  

Rowan University / Rutgers – Camden Board of Governors: 

Coriell Institute for Medical Research: 

MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper: