In April 2016, the state of New Jersey designated Stockton University as an Anchor Institution. The decision to do so recognizes Stockton’s impact on Atlantic City and the surrounding region, as well as its potential to contribute to, and help stabilize the local economy.
Anchor Institutions are place-based organizations with a vested interest in their communities. They often influence local economies, and can attract a diverse and educated workforce. These activities, in turn, stimulate housing markets, new business investments, and the creation or expansion of cultural organizations, such as theaters, performing arts centers, and museums. Anchor Institutions that are colleges or universities offer the added benefits of academic and noncredit classes and professional development opportunities for their city and region.1 Anchor Institutions, such as Stockton, and colleges and universities like it, have also become increasingly more strategic in more directly leveraging assets, partnering with community and private sectors supporting broader economic development activities.2
As part of its Anchor Institution Toolkit, The Netter Center for Community Partnerships, housed at the University of Pennsylvania, has identified widely accepted characteristics for Anchor Institutions.3 These appear below, along with details about how Stockton fulfills these criteria.
Important Presence in the City and Community
Stockton University, then Richard Stockton State College, held its inaugural classes in Atlantic City when its Galloway, New Jersey campus remained under construction when the inaugural cohort of students matriculated in 1971. College Trustees selected the Mayflower Hotel as the interim campus facility.
In 2004, the campus reestablished its presence in Atlantic City with a $5 million, CRDA-funded renovation and expansion of the historic Carnegie Library on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Renamed the Carnegie Center, it holds undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education and professional development programs, serves as a meeting and conference center, and as a location for community outreach. To date, Carnegie Center has hosted over 600 courses attracting more than 10,000 students, and more than 100 community, governmental, and business events are held there annually. Additionally, the Work-First New Jersey Grant Program, managed by Stockton’s Office of Continuing Studies, services over 900 clients seeking retraining or pursuing employment. Finally, Stockton’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) of Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties, also housed in the Carnegie Center, counsels over 600 clients a year.
In addition to traditional academic and continuing studies programming, Stockton has invested heavily in civic learning and community engagement activities. The Stockton Center for Community Engagement & Service-Learning (SCCE) developed, and still manages, three after school homework completion programs in Atlantic City, utilizing 168 Stockton volunteers and serving 300 Atlantic City students annually. The homework completion program is a collaboration between SCCE, the Atlantic City Police Department (ACPD), and the Atlantic City Housing Authority and Urban Development Agency. SCCE also manages the University’s Campus Kitchens Project, which addresses food insecurity among low-income Atlantic County residents; over 200 people annually are served and it draws 300 student volunteers from Stockton University and Atlantic City High School. This project is jointly sponsored by the SCCE and the Atlantic City High School. Additional examples of SCCE outreach initiatives include; naturalization classes, English language classes, and social sessions with older adults living in Atlantic City’s subsidized housing all of which are in partnership with community and governmental organizations.
Stockton’s economic impact takes a variety of forms, the first of which is investment in land and fixed assets. Stockton’s main Galloway campus sits on nearly 1,600 acres within the Pinelands National Preserve. The Atlantic City campus is comprised of just over 6 acres in the heart of the historic Chelsea Neighborhood, just steps from the beach and Atlantic Ocean, with additional holdings in the Carnegie Center, and the Noyes Arts Garage. With nearly $200 million invested in over 300,000 SF of facilities and services in Atlantic City since 2001, Stockton is fully committed to this shore town for decades to come.
The University’s economic impact can also be measured in direct and indirect employment, as well as expenditures for goods and services. According to its most recent economic impact study, the University had more than $442 million in economic impact, with 2,800 people employed by Stockton and an additional 3,000 indirect jobs attributed to the University. On and off-campus student expenditures totaled approximately $18.2 million and $25.3 million respectively for a total of just under $43.5 million. Stockton’s recent capital construction projects also represent sizeable investments, including the Atlantic City campus [$178 million] and the Galloway campus [$53.3] million.4 In FY16 the University spent an additional $38.4 million for the purchase of goods and services.
Community engagement activities, such as those through the Office of Service-Learning, expand the institution’s economic impact further still. Service learning blends the campus’ commitment to civic and community engagement with classroom learning. From 30 courses offered just five years ago, the Office of Service-Learning now manages nearly 100 courses each academic year, including over 2,100 students. Students average approximately 20 hours for each service learning project they complete, meaning over 36,000 hours during a school year. In terms of in-kind value to our local community, the work of service-learning students and day of service volunteers is valued at well over $1 million.
Finally, Stockton contributes to financial and economic forecasting and analysis for the region. The Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism (LIGHT) provides a forum for public policy discussions regarding the gaming, hospitality and tourism industries in New Jersey. The Levenson Institute engages Stockton faculty, students and others in research and report writing to support sound decision making among policy makers and leaders in the region’s three largest industries. The Institute’s activities include professional training, the Jersey Shorecast Outlook for the tourist season throughout Southern New Jersey, conferences, symposia and lecture series, survey and experiential research, and industry reports and newsletters.
Ability to Attract Businesses and Skilled Individuals
Stockton is a major employer in the southern New Jersey region, with over 2,800 employees, of which over 1,100 are full-time faculty and staff. Fifty percent of our employees live in Atlantic County, NJ, with gross wages of over $58 million. In addition, roughly 5,000 jobs in the region are attributed to Stockton and its ancillary activities.5
Stockton also recruits educated, skilled employees. Over 90% of the University’s 300 full-time faculty have attained the highest degree in their field. Stockton also prepares well-skilled graduates. Approximately 25% of our 50,000 graduates reside in Atlantic County, NJ.
Additional Stockton initiatives contribute to more specialized fields. The National Aviation Research and Technology Park (NARTP), for example, located adjacent to the Atlantic City Airport, is an industry, academia, and government collaboration focused on research, innovation, and commercialization of emerging technologies for aviation. The NARTP is located at the world-renowned Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center—the FAA's center for research, development, and sustainment of the National Airspace System. The first building within the park, a 66,000 SF, $17 million facility, will house a high-speed connectivity to the Technical Center laboratories, classrooms and conference rooms, a rooftop lounge. The building is one of seven multi-story buildings with over 400,000 total square feet of research and development space planned for the park.
Finally, the Gateway Project, a public/private partnership6 will include the return of the corporate headquarters for South Jersey Gas to Atlantic City. This $42 million, six-story office building, will serve approximately 200 employees.
Center of Culture, Learning, and Innovation
For nearly 50 years, Stockton has served as a major cultural and educational hub in South Jersey for the arts, theater, music, and civic leadership. In Atlantic City, the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University houses a satellite location for the Noyes Museum of Art, as well as a series of creative maker space booths for emerging artists, galleries, shops, and a café. The African American Heritage Museum of Southern NJ, the only museum of its kind in the state, anchors the facility. Overall, the Arts Garage hosts more than 80 special events annually attracting thousands of attendees.
Dante Hall Theater also serves as a cornerstone in the newly designated Ducktown Arts District in Atlantic City, attracting over 33,500 attendees to 646 events since 2011. Stockton is affiliated with the Bay-Atlantic Symphony, which has residencies on Stockton’s Galloway campus and in Atlantic City at the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa.
Stockton manages the Civil Rights Garden adjacent to Carnegie Center, which pays tribute to the voices and architects of the Civil Rights Movement. It also serves as a setting for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event, and the Fannie Lou Hamer commemorative ceremony in honor of her significant role in the 1964 Democratic Convention held in Atlantic City.
Stockton University recognizes that, as an Anchor Institution, we are both in and of the community. We have a responsibility to participate and collaborate with multiple constituencies to improve the quality of life within the community, strive to preserve local identity, and engage in activities that foster the socio/economic health of the region.
1 The authors of Leveraging Colleges and Universities for Urban Economic Revitalization: An Action Agenda (a joint study by Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) and CEOs for Cities, Boston: Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, 2002) note that colleges and universities have long been important to urban and regional economic growth, and have also been one of the most valuable assets for urban communities in advancing educational, health, & social service needs of urban residents.
2 A good model for this activity is Indiana University’s Bicentennial Strategic Plan: “Excellence in Engagement and Economic Development” available online at: https://strategicplan.iu.edu/plan/engagement.html.
3 Anchor Institutions Toolkit, The Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania, March 2008 (accessed online 4/28/2017): https://www.nettercenter.upenn.edu/anchortoolkit/using-toolkit).
4 Stockton College Economic Impact Report (fiscal year 2011).
5 Stockton College Economic Impact Report (fiscal year 2011).
6Funding for the Atlantic City Gateway Project is a partnership between the State of New Jersey, Atlantic County Improvement Authority, Atlantic County, South Jersey Gas, AC Devco, and Stockton University.