Theses Master's

Evaluating State Based Economic Development Policy: Learning from Atlantic City

Sweet, Evan

Economic development planning has increasingly become a primary function of state governments. Imbued with extensive powers, state economic development authorities and other special entities utilize incentives and other techniques to attract and retain businesses within a community in order to bring increased growth, jobs and tax revenues. However, the economic development planning undertaken by these organizations often lacks rigorous evaluation methods or concrete development goals, with state agencies instead going about economic development with good intentions, but bad practices. This is troubling because these entities utilize vast sums of state revenue and expansive powers, such as eminent domain, to engage in economic development without a clear understanding of what the outcomes and impacts of state actions will be.
Atlantic City, New Jersey serves as a unique case study for this form of economic development. Since the legalization of casino gaming in the city in 1976, the State of New Jersey has been heavily involved in the development of the city’s economy and has engaged in large-scale urban renewal programming as a form of economic development. Through a variety of agencies, including the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the State has utilized a variety of economic development practices including eminent domain, tax credits and incentives to go about the redevelopment of Atlantic City.
Through the exploration of three specific development programs undertaken by the State: eminent domain, financial incentives, and public-private partnerships, this thesis critically evaluates the economic policies of the State of New Jersey in order to provide detailed analysis of the impacts and outcomes of these policies, including those traditionally overlooked by economic development practitioners. Ultimately, concluding that the State’s use of economic development planning has been inadequate and at times run contrary to a holistic economic development strategy intended to uplift a very depressed and economically disadvantaged Atlantic City.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Beauregard, Robert
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 28, 2017