Stockton University’s Atlantic City Operations has announced its new Atlantic City Summer Experience program, which will launch this summer. The program, which is marketed toward students of all majors and backgrounds, allows students to live, work, and learn in Atlantic City free of cost. To gain further insight into the program, The Argo sat down with Brian K. Jackson, the Chief Operating Officer for Stockton University’s Atlantic City campus.
When asked what prompted the university to take on this project, Jackson stated that he and President Harvey Kesselman wanted to “see an opportunity to have students be employed and have internships.”
According to Jackson, the Atlantic City Summer Experience program is based on three components, which include employment opportunities, removing the financial barriers surrounding on-campus housing, and a built-in academic component. Jackson accredits the latter to the Provost, Dr. Leamor Kahanov, who requested that there be academic collaboration in the project.
Jackson then discussed the project’s timeline, which began last fall and went live in February of 2022. The project is currently in phase two construction; this phase includes 416 additional beds in a new building to be constructed across from O’Donnell Park at the Atlantic City campus. According to Jackson, the new housing will differ from the existing Atlantic City residential buildings in the sense that it will have a more “urban park” style than a seaside one.
Those who participate in the program will have their living expenses covered by their employer. Potential employers include Bally’s, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Harrah’s, and other numerous casinos and Atlantic City-based companies which can be found here.
According to Jackson, this phase of construction will cost $69.3 million. “In terms of the funding, the CRDA approved a $10 million loan for the project. The remaining $59.3 million will be financed through tax-exempt bonds issued by the Atlantic County Improvement Authority and will be secured by annual rents paid by the university to the developer under the master lease agreement. The construction of the project remains on time and is expected to open for students to move in Sept. 2023,” stated Jackson.
Jackson described the Atlantic City Summer Experience as a mutually beneficial partnership for both the university and Atlantic City, stating that the city’s reception of the project has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
The university has only undertaken construction in vacant properties in Atlantic City, as to not displace any existing residents. Furthermore, he claims that Stockton University’s increased presence in Atlantic City has had a positive economic impact on the community, with over twenty new businesses opening and flourishing.
This mutually beneficial relationship allows Stockton students to take advantage of the city’s beaches, restaurants, attractions, and numerous growth and networking opportunities while maintaining the university’s responsibility to lift up the community.
When asked about potential challenges for the project, Jackson remained optimistic.
“I don’t see challenges, I see opportunities,” said Jackson, “I will say that there are never enough resources to effect change as quickly as we want to.”