Small Business Resurrection: Camden’s Salvation

by Laura Sosa

The city of Camden once flourished in business and culture, it was a luring atmosphere, which gave way for growth and prosperity.  A sight that has changed dramatically from how it was back in the 1950’s.  Camden, New Jersey went from being one of the most prominent cities of New Jersey to one of the worst in the nation (Washington Post).   Camden’s reign as a successful city has ended and all that is left is the shadow of what this city once was.  Many factors contributed to this downfall a major one being the lack of small business influence.

Camden was home to RCA Victor, New York Ship Building Corporation, and Campbell’s Soup. In short, this city was to major corporations and still has the potential to be so again. Although small business owners are attuned to the fact that local residents are limited to funds, they understand the needs these people have for medicine, food, shelter, maybe even a night out dancing somewhere.  Local empathy allows Camden small business owners to see the local demand they can meet thereby offering residents a viable alternative to satisfying their instinctive needs and the City of Camden a much needed sales tax revenue.  By sparking up commerce within small businesses in Camden, in other words creating more small businesses, the economic flow will start running again.

The advantage that Camden has is the amount of immigrants it has.  According to the 2011 census Camden has 47 percent of its total population being Hispanic immigrants in the city.  NY Times says it best in their article, Immigrants and Small Business,

“Immigrants are known as entrepreneurial people, for obvious reasons: those with the ambition and energy to uproot themselves and build new lives in a distant land are well equipped to build business and the economy too”(NY Times: Immigrants and Small Business).

A study from the Fiscal Policy Institute found that there were 900,000 immigrants among small business owners in the United States, about 18 percent of the total amount. This is higher than the percentage immigrants’ share in the overall population that is 13 percent (NY Times: Immigrants and Small Business).  With New Jersey being ranked third in the U.S. for having the highest percentage of immigrants among small-business owners it is essential that Camden, in particular, scopes in on the opportunities rather than the disadvantages at this point.

The Latin American Economic Development Association (LAEDA) is a non-profit organization located on Market St of Camden, NJ and is known for their works in trying to resurrect the small business life in Camden.  Although they have the capability of reaching out to immigrants they are not only helping  out immigrants but any one willing to start a business of their own.   The LAEDA Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (LCEDS) is a grass root based plan forged over the past 23 years of LAEDA’s history. The LCEDS is a holistic approach to the development of an entrepreneurial business climate from the ground up rather than then from the top down. At the core of this plan of action, are three strategic thrusts: growing the marketplace, building the business and empowering the individual.  The ultimate goal of this strategy is to generate both economic and employment opportunities that will contribute to the resurgence of City of Camden’s economy. LAEDA believes dynamic economies within the city’s commercial districts can be created as a result of its LCEDSstrategy, resulting in sustained economic and employment opportunities for Camden’s current and future residents ( Although LAEDA does not provide grants or loans they do have relationships with commercial lenders throughout Delaware River Valley to help the these potential business owners with financial needs. If a space for a business is needed LAEDA does own and operate several commercial spaces along East and Downtown Camden.  LAEDA is a very useful resource for potential small business owners in the city of Camden.

Everything evolves through a process. Like for example, encouraging small business growth through resources such as LAEDA could evolve to an overall empowerment of the local community when they see their own works being reimbursed with economic stability.  In order to maintain such businesses, local business owners will want politicians in power who will favor their growth.  Politicians in order to benefit themselves as well will be left no choice but to give favor to the small businesses that are fueling up the economic system of their city.  Politicians may benefit themselves because by favoring or in other words allowing for more business growth by lowering taxes and becoming a bi-partisan political party which results in more modern laws better suiting today’s economical trends, businesses will then have more room to expand and bring more money into the city. By neglecting, the politician is not only putting more burdens on themselves to make up for the lack of income in the city but risks their own reputation as an inefficient political figure.  Inevitably, with strong political pillars holding up the city allowing for small business to come through, bigger business corporations will also want to plant their firms in such a business-friendly city.  Thus reflecting the infrastructure of Delaware, home of more than 60 percent of the fortune 500 firms (Why Do So Many Corporations Choose To Incorporate In Delaware).

It is important to learn from past mistakes but also important to adapt efficient methods especially when it comes to business.  The method that Delaware uses such as their bi-partisan political consensus and their quality of courts and judges, breeds for a fertile business ground in which many corporations will want to plant their firms in.  A bi-partisan political consensus is favorable because it will ensure more modern laws that can clearly spell out to the businesses what they can and cannot do (Why Do So Many Corporations Choose To Incorporate In Delaware). Delaware’s courts and judges are known for their quality mainly because of their Court of Chancery which is made of corporate law experts that way corporate cases does get stacked beneath the pile of non corporate cases and can be dealt with promptly and more accurately by judges who expertise in corporations.  This is a path that Camden should take but it is understood that this process will not happen over night it is a process.

This process although it may take time it starts with small businesses.  Empowering the people of Camden through resources like LAEDA that will make them crawl out of the misery they are in and work their way up.  With many businesses around creating a competitive ground that lures in the consumers needed to spark up commerce in the local area.  Later influencing political figures to favor their businesses through cutting taxes because for certain any political figure will want to take part of such event like the city of Camden coming out of its ruins. It is either that or neglecting attention to its local businesses and risking their reputation as an efficient political figure.  Also with such an honorable law program such as the one in Rutgers-Camden that can serve as even more of a tool to convince political involvement for small business growth.  Camden having strong political pillars will  breed grounds so that big corporations will want to plant their firms because with such a friendly business environment it would be a good call on these corporations to invest in Camden so that they may also grow.  Camden has the resources (LAEDA), the well- known school(Rutgers University), the past mistakes in which can be learned from, and the business methods of the state of Delaware in which it can adapt to, to become more than just a shadow of its past but to be more and to create a promising future for the generations to come.


  1. “EDITORIAL; Immigrants and Small Business.” The New York Times. The New

York Times, 01 July 2012. Web. 16 Dec. 2012.

  1. Washington Post. The Washington Post, 22 Nov. 2005. Web. 16 Dec. 2012.
  2. Tang, Jan C. “Why Do so Many Corporations Choose to Incorporate in Delaware?” WHYY and You, 27 Apr. 2011. Web. 16 Dec. 2012.
  3. “Programs & Initiatives.” Latin American Economic Development Association Home. Kronos Technologies, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2012.
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