Rowan Partners with Clayton on Economic Development Project

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Rowan University?s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) and Liberal Arts and Sciences Institute (LASI) are partnering with Clayton to explore options for economic development in the Gloucest

Rowan University?s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) and Liberal Arts and Sciences Institute (LASI) are partnering with Clayton to explore options for economic development in the Gloucester County borough.

Clayton presented the Rowan team a $1,500 donation to conduct its work in conjunction with David B. Burnett, the borough?s economic development director. The efforts will include assisting in researching possible activities to attract more business to the town, grant proposal writing and long-term planning.

?Clearly it is evident that Clayton has suffered from stunted economic growth for quite some time,? Burnett said. ?In effect, what we?ve done by forming this partnership with Rowan, is call in a team of specialists to diagnose our maladies and recommend the proper course of action to ultimately correct and improve Clayton?s economic well-being for the long-term. Additionally, it is our hope that this partnership will become self-perpetuating through the successful award of future grant monies.

Among the possible projects identified are hosting a glass art festival, promoting industrial and commercial site availability via web site development and cooperation with other municipalities and the county, seeking a grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation for park and grounds development, and exploring a micro-business incubator.

From July to September 1, the Rowan faculty, staff and students will conduct an initial review of the town; complete a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis; and begin grant writing. From September 1 though December 15, a Rowan master?s of business administration team will consult on the project, including working on long-term strategic planning, final grant development and initial implementation of summer projects.

Dr. Mark Weaver, director of Rowan?s CIE, said, ?The Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship is committed to community outreach and economic development. This is something Rowan University has committed itself to, and we will try to be a resource to the surrounding community.?

Dr. DeMond Miller, director of LASI, and his team will focus on social and community development aspects of Clayton?s economic environment as they have for other towns. ?A town is defined in many ways, and many factors come into play to not only broaden its business appeal but to make it ?home?. It?s important for downtown areas to provide a sense of place where diverse groups of people can gather to experience culture, to shop, and to socialize. This will be a part of our focus.?

Burnett explained, ?We believe we needed to take an aggressive, value-added approach to our economic development and growth initiatives. The real goal is not only to bring businesses to town, but to create and foster a sense of community, which in turn fulfills the needs of our primary customers . . . our residents.?

Weaver said the Rowan team, which also has conducted similar work in Harrison Township, Voorhees, Camden and Haddon Heights, serves as an objective third party in economic development efforts. The Rowan group conducts research and makes recommendations to municipalities based on its findings, and the municipalities determine how to proceed from that point.

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