Home>Local>Camden>News report on hiring of Camden residents by Norcross’ company left out some information about his role in boosting the city’s economy

Former Gov. Tom Kean and George Norcross at the Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Governor James Florio. October 3, 2022. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe).

News report on hiring of Camden residents by Norcross’ company left out some information about his role in boosting the city’s economy

Mayor slams ‘same old tropes from outsiders trying to tear down tangible progress’

By David Wildstein, March 09 2023 1:08 am

A WNYC/Gothamist report that companies who received tax incentives to move to Camden haven’t hired enough local residents was an opaque shot at Democratic powerbroker George E. Norcross, whose insurance company received more than $86 million in tax breaks to move its corporate headquarters there, the city’s mayor suggested.

“Spotlighting one or two companies, that are generous corporate partners, is an absolute red herring and provides no historical context on economics or the state of employment in the city,” said Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen.  “Camden continues to grow, and we will not be defined by the same old tropes from outsiders trying to tear down the tangible progress the city has made in the last decade.”

The story noted that Norcross’s company, Connor Strong & Buckalew, has just six Camden residents out of 402 employees but left out that 16 of 22 shared employees of their real estate division live in the city.

Under a new city ordinance approved last year, employers must disclose semi-annually how many workers are in Camden and their salary ranges, which was approved after local progressive activists sought voter approval on transparency hiring.

Norcross supporters say the news report cherry-picked numbers to fit their agenda.

Not included in the report are the local employment numbers for Cooper University Health Care, the South Jersey hospital that has been a focal point for Norcross for the last 20 years.  Their most recent residency disclosure shows 831 city residents are employed by the hospital.

“On average, a full-time Cooper team member living in Camden in 2022 earned $43,624 in annual salary,” the disclosure said, noting that no full-time Camden residents who work for Cooper earn less than $31,200 annually, plus benefits.

Not included in the story are references to the economic and health care benefits to the city as the home of Cooper University Health Care or their charitable contributions to the community.

The Connor Strong & Buckalew filing with the city also references “hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than 200 organizations” by the company, the Norcross Foundation, and Norcross individually, along with significant sponsorships of multiple Camden community organizations.

Norcross, his company, and his foundation also provided a $1 million funding commitment to training city residents to enter the workforce, more than $1 million to Camden-based youth sports and health initiatives, and more than $1 million for non-profits based in the city.

Carstarphen complained that WNYC/Gothamist ignores some of the successes enjoyed by the city in recent years.

“Camden City has seen unprecedented economic growth over the last ten years,” he said. “This is a municipality that has led the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in employment growth and currently has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the city’s history.”

Carstarphen, who received political and financial support from Norcross in his campaigns for city council and mayor, indicated that the number cited in the news report, written by frequent Norcross critic Nancy Solomon, doesn’t reflect Camden’s future economic outlook.

“We are proud to be the home of the largest employer in the region, Cooper University Health Care.  We are proud to call Campbell’s Soup and Subaru partners in growing and expanding the city’s tax base,” Carstarphen said.  “ In fact, we are going to see a $2 billion development at Cooper that will redefine the city.”

Norcross allies have criticized Solomon’s reporting over the years.  In a May 2022 Zoom meeting with Solomon, one of Norcross’ attorneys, Michael Critchley, suggests that her reporting may be biased.

“From my perch, I came to the conclusion that your speculation about George Norcross has not been journalistically fair,” Critchley told Solomon.

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